‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I remember getting curious about meditation, probably twenty years ago or maybe even longer. Reading the local newspaper one day I saw that there was going to be a local talk on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and so I went along with a friend.
I was inspired by what I heard and in 2001 was taught TM by Jonathan Hinde. From then on, I meditated, as you do with TM, twice a day, every day.
The purpose of meditation is to experience the meditative state. To allow thought to drop away and to experience a more silent, peaceful state of consciousness. There is extensive scientific and credible research on the many benefits of TM.
It certainly helped me.
For example, about six months after I began to meditate, I decided to sell my financial business and become a coach. I had been unhappy and dissatisfied for a while and yet it wasn’t until I got clearer in my mind that I decided a change in course. I attributed my decision to the increased clarity of mind I got through meditation.
I was very committed to my twice a day practice and I was utterly convinced that I would continue it for the rest of my life. There were times when my meditations were so deep that I got a truly extraordinary feeling of presence, connection and peace.
And there were also plenty of times my mind was so busy it felt like I got nothing, but Jonathan said that the regularity was the key.
In 2012 I attended a three-day seminar being given by Dr. Dicken Bettinger on the Three Principles. Dicken has a wonderful presence and way of talking and on that first morning, I had an incredibly powerful insight into the nature of being present.
I cannot convey the feeling I got with words. All I can say is that I realised that being present is a wonderful feeling and has nothing whatsoever to do with time. That feeling I got lasted for weeks and weeks. It was like one long, very deep meditation.
When I got back after those three days, I stopped the practice of meditating. There was no thought about stopping. It was not a decision I had to make, it just didn’t seem to make sense to do it anymore. I have even tried to go back to it a few times and even though I do very occasionally meditate I have not gone back to it on a regular basis.
What I have seen is this. The wonderful feeling of presence is what we all have when our personal, habitual thinking drops away. Every single one of us has the potential to drop thinking so that we are left with a quiet peaceful mind. Even when our thinking is at its very worst, we are only ever a thought away from complete inner peace and harmony.
I realised that I didn’t need to follow a practice to experience a quiet mind. This is not to say I have a quiet mind all the time, because I don’t, but I now see that a quiet mind is a result of not doing rather than doing. The less attention I pay to my personal thinking – thoughts like worry, tension or simply over-thinking – the quicker I return to the present.
The understanding of what is creating our state of mind, moment by moment, is all we need to see. The understanding, rather than a practice, does the work for us.