When I saw that there was a chapter on meditation, I hungrily tore into. For those that are unawareness, inspiration or spiritual conditioning is something that I work diligently on. As we’re going to see from The Fourfold Path to Healing, meditation doesn’t have to be something revered as religious or spiritual or just sitting in silence unthinking. It’s more about your thoughts and as Marcus Aurelius said some 1,800 years ago:
Our life is what our thoughts make it.
A post on meditation may seem frivolous, but as we’ve discussed health is a dynamic, that involves the Mental Body as well. If you believe the above quote, then you know today’s post is just as necessary to complete the wholeness of health. Take for example that attitude has been an indicator to illness proneness: Type A are more susceptible to heart disease, where those bottled-up silent types are more cancer prone. Even though we may be ‘looking for the meaning of life,’ few actually have a healthy outlook on life. In order to do this we need to separate thoughts from feelings. Feelings can be strong, especially in the way of illness, causing us to lose power over objective thought. Truth be told it is our power of thought that separates from the rest of the animal kingdom. When we meditate we think we’re supposed to sit, without thinking. Meditate actually comes from a Latin word meaning:
To think, to reflect upon, to revolve one’s mind
I equate this to mindfulness. This is something that I practiced when in Vancouver with my Yogi coachsurfing host Dom. In the car ride home she took me and German Daniel through mindful exercises. I pick a sensation: standing in a waterfall once and soaring down with a parachute. She instructed us to take on the feeling of the scene, to let thoughts come, to see them, and then let them go (I have to say I particularly rocked at this, but this is something I unconsciously practice all the time). I also consider Thich Nhat Hanh to be a master of mindfulness. What he says is:
The Greatest secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order to find the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.
So when we go back to Cowan, he says meditation is the engagement of focused thinking and detachment, of viewing our thoughts objectivity. Thoughts encircles thinking out there (objective), whereas our emotions/feelings are us- unique and individual. So often feelings get in the way of thinking objectively and seeing things as they are. We take things personally or feel to passionately that we are blind to seeing reality. We freak or panic and can’t produce the right outcome because we cannot think objectively- we can not heal properly. Successful healing requires that we get this objective thinker inside us all under control (cue in meditation). Over-identification with the whole emotional realm can lead us to sickness. To be philosophers where we pose the questions that are completely objective and untainted with emotions so we can discover universal truths. To see and acknowledges feelings or thoughts, but not let them engulf us. As if he didn’t have me completely in rapture, he quotes Rumi! I’ve never been one to sit and read poetry, but last week at the library I found myself leaving with a book of poetry. Any guess who it was? Rumi! Here is the the poem that Cowan included:
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness.
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide to you.
AMAZING! Healing is about empowering the observer/thinker, yet still being open to the emotions that come with life (like that balance we talked about yesterday). He further goes on to suggest a method of meditation suggested by Rudolf Steiner that is called Ruckschau (contemplative review). Before going to bad, take a few minutes to sit in a relaxed position. Review the day, beginning with the most recent. Recall the nature of each experience and how you felt while resisting any urge to judge yourself. Watch yourself as you would a friend. Gradually over time you’ll find yourself able to practice this in other daily practices. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about mindful walking and in the book Three Deep Breaths they discuss practicing at stop lights. I know in our ‘busy’ lives it may seem ridiculous to take time to stop and think objectively, and meditate, but it IS another important aspect to your wholeness. You can run or eat as healthily as much as you want, but it won’t keep illness at bay alone.
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