Meditation is more than just a new buzzword in our 21st century world. In fact, the act of meditation has been in existence for more than 5,000 years. So why all of a sudden is it getting so much attention in society? Simple. Because we need it.
But what is it?
First of all, we call it a Meditation PRACTICE because that is exactly what it is — a practice. We don’t master meditation. We don’t master our thoughts. We don’t do this thing and then mark it off our list as being “done”. Rather, we keep showing up, keep practicing, and keep catching glimpses (some quick and some deliciously long) of what it’s like to be fully present and fully aware.
On the surface, this sounds AMAZING, right? But if you are one of those 8 billion people on this planet who have a really hard time being still and quiet? Well, first of all, that means you are normal, but second of all, it means you really do need meditation in your life.
American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön gives us a great analogy about meditation in her book When Things Fall Apart. She describes meditation like a pack of dogs in the night.
In Nepal, the dogs bark all night long. Every twenty minutes or so, they all stop at once, and there is an experience of immense relief and stillness. Then they all start barking again. The small mind of sem (a Tibetan word for the mind’s stream of chatter) can feel just like that. When we first start meditating, it’s as if the dogs never stop barking at all. After a while, there are those gaps. Discursive thoughts are rather like wild dogs that need taming. Rather than beating them or throwing stones, we tame them with compassion. Over and over we regard them with the precision and kindness that allow them to gradually calm down. Sometimes it feels like there’s much more space, with just a few yips and yaps here and there.
If you have dogs barking in your head allllll the time, meditation is for you.
If you want to feel peace and calm on a regular basis in your everyday life, meditation is for you.
And if you are ready to invest in your own well-being, meditation is for you.
The more we practice, the less distracting those “barking dogs” become; until we hardly even notice them at all. We learn to be still and quiet and present EVEN AMONGST the noise around us.