Basics of Meditation
Part 3: Meditation and Daily Life
Lifestyle and Meditation
Choosing to meditate doesn’t mean changing your life radically. At the same time, it is often said that the decision to meditate is made the night before. If you have planned to rise early for meditation, the ability to get a good night’s sleep directly impacts your commitment.
People often share how going to bed after a bad movie, or reading the News before bed, totally affects not only their sleep, but their meditation the next day. It is not that watching movies or reading Newsweek is bad. It is simply a matter of creating the kind of atmosphere at night that allows you to rise and meditate with full conviction. In her book, My Lord Loves a Pure Heart, Gurumayi Childvilasananda writes,
"You may think you are watching a harmless little movie, just to pass the time. But you must understand, every bit of the action of that movie lodges in your system. You think you're going to have a very easy, quick little meal --just pizza. Understand every ounce of oil in that pizza clings to the organs of your body… No movie is “innocent,” there is no such thing as a “simple” meal. Everything, even the news, affects you on a deep level… Very few human beings can process these things immediately."
Meditation is not about giving up the pleasures of the world-- no more pizza or movies. Rather it is about aligning your activities with your highest goals. If you are having difficulties meditating, take time to look at what might be happening in your life that could affect your meditation.
The company you keep makes a great deal of difference. When you choose meditation, you are also choosing to find happiness from inside, which goes against the currents of society. Find people who will support you in this.
Good company includes all the people in your life who share a genuine concern for goodness and upliftment in any form. If you look for it, even this fast paced world can provide inspiration to you… meeting an ninety-six year old woman who still longs to serve humanity; the postman who always stops to give your dog a biscuit; the store clerk who goes out of their way to help you. The world is full of kindness when you have an eye for it.
Maintaining Your Inspiration
Like other practices, such as music or art, you need to keep your inspiration fresh to maintain a life-long practice of meditation. Inspiration can come in many forms. Reading spiritual books, remembering your original goal, meeting with other seekers, all help to keep your spirit fresh and young. From time to time, draw inspiration from those who have walked the path and know where it leads. Here are some thoughts from my own teachers, Gurumayi Childvilasananda, and Swami Muktananda. Gurumayi writes,
“Meditation is getting in touch with divine love. There is nothing to do, there is nothing to say, there is no giving and taking. Streams merge into rivers, rivers merge into the ocean, and the ocean merges into itself. It is the same with love. It is for this love that we meditate. When you get in touch with your own Self, the only thing that you find is love and nothing else."
And Swami Mutkananda writes:
“A mind that has become immersed in the Self always remains blissful in the Self.... This is why you turn the mind within and make it still: so that you can know the great divinity that exists within you, and live in ecstasy.”
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