So much has happened in 2020 that it can leave your mind and emotions in a fetal, confused whirl. Thank goodness for the 2020 Meditation Challenge! This year I challenged myself and others to meditate 100 hours across 2020. Through regular meditation I have tapped and expanded the peaceful refuge inside myself that current events can’t touch. But that’s just one phenomenal aspect of meditation. What are the others? It’s not all about being happy and peaceful 24/7!
There are 5 reasons why I meditate that no one ever talks about but should. Meditation can be a great doorway to freedom. Here’s what you too can gain from it beside the usual tropes about enlightenment and stress reduction.
#1 – Clear the Programming
We all come with histories and pasts. From birth we are slapped with a name not of our choosing and “educated” according to everyone else’s opinions and beliefs. Where, when and to whom we were born shape us more than anything. Many of us accept what we’re taught about life, each other, history, politics, religion, and what will make us successful, happy and feel worthwhile.
The consequence is that even our basic way of everyday thinking is conditioned by everything we’ve learned. If people question any of this programming, it’s usually only superficially. Mostly we wind up trapped inside our very self-destructive minds and their insane thought patterns – all built on and re-enforced by this “education”.
But to be our own person and live free lives, we must take off the straight jacket on our thought patterns. We can’t be sovereign over ourselves, our emotions, our moods, our actions and our thoughts if we are continuously spinning in conditioned ruts that bring us nothing by sorrow, misery or pain.
Meditation breaks the chain of conditioned thought patterns. It teaches us to stop and notice our thoughts, emotions and experiences, as well as see their roots and continual “food”. From here we can alter course and embark on taking back control of our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, opinions – and the very experience of this life.
#2 – Be a Physician
Most of us live lives of quiet desperation and deep uncertainty, fear, and pain. We’ve been traumatized, abused, neglected, mocked, misunderstood, ostracized, abandoned, robbed, wronged, swindled and so much more. We look to everyone else to save us, heal us and set things right.
That’s just a waiting game with poor odds.
In meditation, we learn to be our own healer, how to find sources of pain, anger, sorrow and so on. We learn their roots, their energies, their causes but also learn how to notice them, ease them, replace them, let them go and transform them. We move forward rather than being continuously caught up in the suffering, misery and pain. Others may help us in the process but ultimately we are the ones who do the actual healing.
#3- Creating a Refuge
The world is a crazy, insane place to call home. Nothing makes sense and it always feels like it’s burning or about to explode. But that’s only one perspective. Almost all religions and spiritual traditions call it a world of illusion and deception.
In any lifetime, knowing who to trust or how to stay safe seems like a guessing game akin to walking blindfolded through a live bombing range. None of us are getting out of here alive but some may escape seemingly less scarred than others.
When the world is on fire and every exit door feels hot to the touch, the inner refuge is the one that always brings refreshing peace, equanimity and happiness.
With meditation, we go inward to cultivate strength, peace and quiet that no outside force can touch or manipulate. It does not depend on wealth or status. All it takes is quietly shutting the door on the insanity of the world in exchange for the peace of your own inner being. That refuge is a point of calm in the storm, a source of strength, joy, love, compassion and so much more. Once you tap it, the fake trinkets of the world no longer dazzle and the unending madness no longer draws you into its grasping death spiral. Better, you become one of the peaceful and happy souls making this world a better place for being in it.
#4 – Be the Sovereign
We are a pack or herd creature. We look to others to lead and make decisions about our lives, down to every detail about how we dress, eat, play, love, work, or vote. Most people spend their lives playing follow the leader. When they die, their biggest regret is living the life other people expected of them and not the life they wanted for themselves.
Meditation, by going inward, leads us back to ourself. It shines the light on who we are, what we feel, expect, hope, love, desire, hate and want to avoid. By going inward, we dismantle layer by layer the external world’s constant bleating about how we should lead our lives, what we should think, and how we should be.
In meditation we learn to let go of the fear, uncertainty and need for security that keep us enslaved to other people’s ideas and rules. We learn to depend on ourselves, not them, for ideas about what is right, wrong, important or unimportant. Nothing is taken at face value. Our critical thinking skills have developed beyond the need for bread and circuses while other people make decisions about how our lives should be led.
We become masters of ourselves and know what’s best for us. We no longer need everyone else telling us what to say, think or do. We are our own sovereign.
#5 – Be the Guru
Similarly, meditation leads us to becoming our own guru. You can spend a lifetime at someone’s feet or gathering all the “truths” proclaimed by this guru or that. You can read endlessly, try to understand what they were saying, try to grasp it – if only you can understand just a little more or if only they would teach you a little more.
Everyone is selling versions of the truth. You can run and follow for countless lifetimes and never get any closer to understanding what they mean. How will you know the truth when you hear it? Because it “feels” right? Yesterday one thing felt right but today something else does. When will you tire of following other people’s truths?
Through meditation you merge the inner refuge with your own sovereignty to become your own guru. If truths are eternal, then those truths are always accessible to all people. No one has an exclusive handle on knowing them. We all have that ability or no one does. Otherwise how can it be eternal?
When you go inward, you learn to become your own guru and find your own truth and peace.
We Should All Be Free
Meditation is a path through many doors but to me, its ability to free and heal is what makes it exceptional. Once freed and healed, we open up so many possibilities for this precious existence. All it takes is sitting and going inward.
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