I often meet people who say playing music is their practice, or taking a bubble bath, or walking in nature. The implication is that whatever happens in meditation can happen in these activities too.
Is this true?
This is a deceptively simple practice that is so simple most folks write it off without giving it a sincere shot. Like meditation, it can take a while to get the hang of. Its many proponents argue no other practice can change your relationship to hardship and suffering more radically in so short a time.
I have a theory. Not a perfect theory, but it is a theory based on experience – based on my experience. And that’s exactly what my theory is about: the feedback loop between our ideas about reality, and our experience of reality. A celebration – and critique – of spiritual growth and understanding.
In March of 2012, myself and twenty other “adept” meditators participated in an experiment to try to answer the question: what is the real resting state of the brain? Strange things happened. An exploration of one view of so-called “enlightenment.”
It’s called a “vajra,” and it’s one of those ubiquitous symbols seen across the Indian subcontinent. In Tibetan Buddhism it points to the whole Vajrayana “Diamond” Path. Different people describe the vajra’s symbolism in different ways. One wildly ambitious way is as the sum total of reality itself, or at least, three fundamental ways of experiencing reality.
Meditation and other contemplative practices seem to accelerate the aging-gracefully gradient. They are ways of thinning out in the prime of life – a kind of dying in the midst of the everyday. Then when death does come, as it comes for us all, there’s nothing to fear, “for the things we’ve learned to care for will continue.”
The benefits of mindfulness meditation have very quickly become one of the good-news mental health stories of our time. But meditation also has a shadowy seam. Is there a link between some forms of mental illness and the freedom promised at the heart of meditation? My column on the infamous “Dark Night of the Soul”