Guest post by Para Steinmann
Not all meditation techniques are created equal.
Nowadays, it seems, meditation is everywhere. Hospitals offer meditation; yoga classes end with meditation. People go on meditation retreats; monks and nuns meditate. Doctors prescribe meditation to patients suffering from stress, and chances are your local YMCA offers meditation classes. But do all these meditations lead to transcendence?
Most meditation techniques are based on effort: effort to silence the mind, effort to concentrate on one thought or image, effort to watch the breath. “Guided meditation” is a case in point: one is told to move from one visualization to the next, thus keeping the mind continuously engaged on the conscious thinking level–the surface of the mind. It’s like staying on the surface of the ocean, while the transcendent is at the bottom.
It is commonly thought the mind has to be forced or disciplined or it will run all over like an unruly child. This is a wrong understanding that makes most people feel they can’t meditate (“I’m too active, impatient, think too much,” etc.)
Only a technique that allows the mind to go within, settle down, and experience more and more quiet states of awareness really deserves the name meditation. Such a technique effortlessly leads the mind to transcendence: inner wakefulness along with pure silence. And it’s very easy!
For centuries meditation was thought to be very hard, requiring hours of practice a day to maybe, at the end of one’s life, master the practice. Techniques such as Transcendental Meditation completely negate this understanding.
Everyone’s mind naturally seeks happiness. Give it the experience of greater happiness, contentment, inner peace, and it will naturally go there. It’s only a matter of learning to turn the mind within, and the rest is automatic. The mind goes to the transcendent, which is a field of supreme happiness and peace, beyond space and time, eternal silence, yet totally awake. With time this state becomes established, so that whatever one is doing, one enjoys that inner peace and happiness too. Eventually the state of transcendence takes over so completely that everything in the outer world is experienced as just a wave of that silence, a wave of consciousness. It is as if the deep inner value of life expands to overtake the whole outer world, and all is experienced as oneness.
This is the aim of all forms of meditation. It is one’s own choice what technique one practices, but, being impatient by nature, I’d choose the most direct path to the goal!