I was very lucky - when I learnt to meditate for the first time, I had a very good teacher.

Teaching, to me, is all about transmitting - in other words beyond what you say and what you do as a teacher, there is a sharing of the essence of what you teach. As a yoga instructor, when I run a class, I am of course giving verbal instructions, and correcting poses, but at the same time I am allowing the essence of yoga to flow through me. This is what I mean by transmission.

Well, my first meditation teacher did that very well.
It was in the Transcendental Meditation center in London. I had taken the basic course to learn to meditate, and on the last day, the culmination of the course was that the teacher guided me into a meditation. She sat with me for a while, and together we chanted the mantra that I had been given. Slowly, the chanting became quieter and quieter, until she left the room, leaving me for 20 minutes to continue repeating the mantra silently.

She had set up the whole thing very well - there was an air of sacredness; I felt completely relaxed; and my mind was totally focused.

For a few minutes I continued to repeat the mantra silently, allowing my body to relax more and more fully, feeling a greater level of concentration take over me. And then...

I heard the teacher returning, approaching the door to the room in which I sat. I suddenly realized that I had not had a single thought for at least the last 10 minutes. My mind had been completely silent. That thought - that I hadn't been thinking - interrupted my state of silence, and with it came further reflection. I remembered what I had been experiencing in that silent state:

I was floating in space, weightless, and surrounded by the most beautiful stars.
The silence of my mind reflected a deep silent space around me - silent, but full. Full of the most wonderful depth, and infinite clarity.
I was bathing; body, mind, and soul, in the embrace of an unconditional love that knew no bounds.
I felt total and utter bliss - there is no other word.

As the door handle turned and my teacher came back into the room, I melted. Tears of gratitude streamed from my eyes as I felt completely transformed. Those minutes in that room has shown me that what I had been searching for - the experience of transcendence / self realization / enlightenment - was REAL. I was not chasing shadows. I was truly on to something.

My life since then has been a quest to re-attain that silent state more permanently.

Please note: the state of transcendent awareness does not have to imply detachment from the material world! On the contrary: when we are aware of our true nature, we are more capable; more able; more functional. The difference is that we no longer have to TRY to perform. We are automatically supremely skillful in that state. The words that come from our mouth are divine. Our actions reflect nothing but love. And our intentions are supremely benevolent. Because the reality is that our essence is of God. And when we transcend the mundane 'little self', and contact once again that 'true Self' that is at our heart, we know nothing, but are completely aware.

Please leave a comment!

( This is the second article in what will be a long series on meditation. You can find the first HERE )


Curtis said...

Yes, being guided into meditation for the first time is wonderful. And it doesn't have to be hard. The first time I tried Heart Rhythm Meditation (4 years ago) I felt like I had meditated. It was very empowering.

Once you find a meditation that you can relate to you will want to stick with it for best benefits.

Unknown said...

Hi Curtis,
You bring up a great point - namely, that almost everyone who practices meditation will at some point come to a crossroads where they are tempted to change technique.
After many years of practice, I felt that I was not progressing. Somehow, no matter what I did, my meditation seemed to be 'stuck' somehow. I was seriously considering whether perhaps the method i used was not the 'right' one; or whether there was a better one out there.
You are right: stick to a method. "The grass is always greener on the other side".
There is a great analogy:
If you want to find water, you dig a well. To dig a well, you have to dig DEEP. Many people nowadays like to try this technique, and that tecnhique, and then another... there are so many 'new age' methods to choose from! But if you want to succeed in anything, you have to dig deep.
Lots of little wells here and there = much digging, and no water!

Rohini said...

Hi Ben,
I can really relate to this as I've been going through a similar mental oscillation in terms of meditation technique. I practice Vipassana, I went to my first ten day silent retreat last year. I became a bit lazy in my practice a few months after the course, mentally searching around for this technique or that technique (TM being one of them). Since the start of this year however, I've resolved to stick to Vipassana and have been practicing regularly on a daily basis.
In your opinion, is one technique 'better' than another, or are they all vehicles taking us all to the same place? I have found that old adage of the master pointing at the moon and all his followers becoming mesmerised by the pointing finger coming to mind often recently in light of my spiritual indecisiveness. :-)

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