Many people may associate meditation with feelings of peace, calmness and bliss. While this may indeed be part of one’s experience, it is definitely not the goal to be pursued. True meditation is namely a practice of connecting to our true nature, to the Self, which is the awareness which is prior to any thought or emotion and, hence, infinitely unaffected by any thought or emotion. When we practice to rest as the true Self in meditation, it is therefore indifferent whether our practice is filled with continuous thought, emotional turmoil, or bodily tension; for the Self everything is already perfect as it is, no matter what.
What, then, makes meditation such an important practice? Simply put, because most of us have, due to our psychological, cultural and social backgrounds, not learned to behave as the Self but as the ego. Whereas the Self is always already happy, free, whole, loving and at peace, ego is the movement by which we impose separation, competition, and superiority and inferiority onto Reality. When we, however, continuously make the effort to take the position of the witness in meditation, we start to create more space to observe this movement in ourselves. We begin to notice our own compulsive reactions and behaviors and, over time and with practice, learn to distinguish these from non-egoic responses, which do not come from a place of emotional entanglement but from a place of prior freedom.
This is also why for us, as a community, meditation is an indispensable part of our life
together, as it serves as the ground from which to resolve any problems or conflicts. For if
we are truly devoted to be the Self, we will always discover that whatever arises is never a
threat nor that we are ever at war; these are just ideas which only exist in our own minds!
And the less we identify with the mind’s craziness, the more we can relax, open up about,
and transcend these beliefs that may keep us in a state of competition rather than
togetherness. Of course, this is not only the case for an intentional community like us, but
for any society in which conditioned human beings are living together. So, if you are longing
to bring about a positive change in the world, but you may feel rather limited in terms of
your potential influence, it is good to realize that you can already have a huge impact by
cultivating more awareness of your own patterns of separation by meditating regularly!
Two relevant questions that may accordingly come up are: how do I meditate and how do I keep up the consistency of a meditation practice? The kind of meditation that we practice here in Avidanja is so-called meditation without an object. This means that we actually do nothing but to sit still for a prolonged amount of time — resting as the witness, observing anything that may arise yet not identifying with any of it. Again, it is really not about how quiet your mind is or how peaceful you feel while meditating. So just sit, take a few deep breaths to relax, and simply be the presence that you always already are. To keep this in your awareness during your practice, it may be helpful to study these ‘instructions’ by Peter Bampton, our teacher, right before you meditate:
Sitting still, relaxing deeply, alert and awake
I let everything be exactly as it is
With no problem, no expectation, and no struggle
I meditate with infinite patience
With nothing to do, nothing to change, nothing to achieve
Free from identification with the arising of thought
I simply rest as Consciousness Itself
If you are struggling to incorporate a consistency of practice into your life, start with regular shorter meditations. Try to have a set time, preferably twice a day, of ten to fifteen minutes. Create a space in your living area where you have an atmosphere of meditation, so that it becomes a ritual for which you do not have to spend any energy preparing. Besides meditating, nourish yourself with inspirational reading for at least ten minutes a day to keep yourself motivated (texts or books by spiritual masters may be especially helpful). Finally, consider going to a retreat where you will practice meditation for a longer amount of time under the guidance of a teacher and amidst the company of likeminded people. And if you either live in Portugal or have the opportunity to travel here, we can especially recommend doing a retreat with the Awakened Life Project, of which we ourselves are a part. We wish you a lot of liberation on your meditation journey! And if you still have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Fire of the Heart – Peter Bampton
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
The Truth Is – Sri H.W.L. Poonja
Breath of the Absolute – Dialogues with Mooji
Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda
Undiscovered Country – Kathryn Hulme
I Am That – Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Chasm of Fire – Irina Tweedie