There is no failure. There is no competition. We all move at our own pace, patience and perserverence are necessary and as long as you do peservere, ultimately you will reap the rewards that meditation can bring.
The World in which we live
We all live busy lives. School, work, family and friends, all place constant demands upon our time and energy. Through all this, we struggle to achieve our goals, to become a Jedi, and to hear and feel the Force.
Unfortunately, the voice of the Force is very quiet, and cannot be heard over the never-ending clamour of our own thoughts; we cannot feel the Force in the deluge of physical sensations we routinely subject ourselves to. By learning to meditate, to quiet the mind and let go of the body, we gradually learn to sense and listen to the Force.
There are other benefits to regular meditation. It has been shown in clinical studies that the regular practice of meditation reduces the prime indicators of stress in the body, such as high blood pressure. It is also a prime method of learning about yourself, and as such is cheaper than therapy. However, the ultimate goal of meditation is not these, but to initiate an expansion and transformation of your spiritual self.
East and West -Views on Spirituality
Many of our meditative practices originate from the East. There, generations of monks have taught and practised the spiritual traditions for millenia. It is deeply ingrained in their society, there is a sense of balance between the spiritual and the material. In India, it is acceptable for a man to devote the first half of his life to the duties of family in the capacity as householder, but to renounce these same duties and become the spiritual seeker in the second half of life.
In the West, we tend to be a bit suspicious of spiritualism and dismiss people with an interest in it as being a bit nutty. Meditation has generally been practised only within the framework of religious orders, if at all. This is gradually being overcome with the increasing interest in Eastern practices, and the plethora of books and visual media on the subject. Meditation is even being prescribed by some progressive doctors! Either way, it is becoming more accepted in the community.
Prepare to be bored!
Meditation is essentially the practise of focused concentration. Using the idea of a target in the mind, the intention is to strike as near the centre as possible. This is, of course, much easier said than done, as anyone who has tried will know. Despite this, you must not be put off by early failure. The mind will resist this discipline, soon you will be face-to-face with your own mental clutter, boredom, resistance, and that darned song that just will NOT get out of your head. Though at first your spans of concentration will be brief, if you perservere in your practice the length of time you can maintain it will improve.
There is a Chinese proverb 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step', so let us begin. Meditation touches upon the whole life and the whole person; so the first step of meditation is to take stock of the person we are today, of the life we live now, and of the whole situation in which we find ourselves. Doing so will give you a firm foundation on which to build your meditation practise. Please, take some time for personal reflection.
In your response to this lecture, as well as summirising the course material, please introduce yourself, and respond to the following:What factors have led you towards meditation?
What hopes and expectations do you have?
Do you practice meditation already, and how successful have you been?
Share your experiences.
Joining the Company
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you are standing beside a broad pathway. People are walking along. Some walk in groups, others travel by themselves. You stand and watch them pass. You notice that these people radiate a serenity and contentment that you have only rarely seen. Someone comes over to you and offers you a warm handshake.
'Are you coming?'
You reply and ask, 'What will I need to take with me?'
'Everything that you are.'
'Where are we going?' you ask.
'To discover all that you can be', comes the reply.
'When shall we start?' you ask.
You step onto the path, people greet you with warm smiles knowing that you have just joined them. Your journey has begun.
Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.
- Mahatma Gandhi