My wife, Rie, recently completed ten days of silence on a Vipassana meditation retreat. Upon her return she was met with a variety of responses.
There were those that saw her as a hero who had survived some great ordeal, those that saw her as an idiot and were in total disbelief as to why anyone would want to do such a thing, and those that nodded with knowing and understanding. This question that comes up again and again is “why meditate?”
Well, there are a million reasons why people take the time and make the effort and, many of these are individual, but I can tell you why I do it and, what it is that I get from doing it.
The first is silence. The world is full of noise and very few people experience peace. From the moment that we wake there are radios, televisions, news, information, things to do, people to see and places to go. Each of us is required to process masses of information.
Consider the world of your grandparents and great grandparents: there were few or no cars, no computers, no mobile phones, one channel on TV and, three channels on the radio. The only news was the newspaper and news took time to arrive. All things took time and happened at a more leisurely pace.
In meditation we still the mind
Not so now. Information and information sharing is instant. When the planes flew into the twin towers we were all able to watch it happening in real time. In the Japanese tsunami we watched the waters rush across the land, destroying people’s lives, as it happened. We know about war and casualties the instant that they occur.
Is Stress Real?
The bottom line is that the physiologically of the human body that flies jumbo jet is little different to the one that drove the horse and cart several generations ago. When people ask me if stress is real and I explain about the amount of information that we now all process and I say “yes”, stress is very real. As with all things, however, it is not what we experience that is the issue it is what we do with it that makes the difference.
The problem is that now we have so much to deal with and so much information to process that it is easy for us to forget who we are and why we are here. We cease to hear our inner voice and cease to attend to our own needs.
In meditation we still the mind, reduce the outside stimulus of everyday experience and create the inner peace and silence in which we begin to hear the answers to our problems. For many, it is the only time that we might even realise that we have any problems to face.
When I created the ‘Knowing Silence’ meditation programme many years ago, I was suggesting that the real answers to our deepest questions are found within us not without us, and that all the theoretical teachings of gurus are nothing compared to the hands on, mind off, silence of inner knowledge and understanding.
For us all taking just a little time, be it a few minutes or an hour of meditation, we create a magic space of calm and relaxation that we rarely find in our daily lives.
If you are new to meditation then might I suggest you try my free Morning/Evening meditation mp3s? They have been downloaded hundreds of times and the feedback I receive is that they are very useful and a great starting point.
I’ll blog again next week with Why Meditate?, Part 2.
Take care, be happy,