To experience peace in our heart is it necessary to meditate? Well, ‘meditation’ is a very loose term.
For example, if someone is just sitting quietly, not thinking, just being aware of a sense of peace within themselves, that is a very natural thing that many people do. Some call it ‘quiet reflection’, and it does not require a technique. What it does require is that we can pull our attention out of the stream of thoughts, so that our mind can enjoy the silence of not thinking.
This has to happen, because if we remain involved in thinking, then our awareness is in thought, and as much as we like to believe that we can think and experience the true depth of peace at the same time, it is not possible. Every thought pulls our attention to the superficial level of thought. It is a completely different dimension of consciousness to peace.
It is like listening to a radio station: If we wish to tune in to one channel, we have to tune out from another. So if we wish to fully attune ourselves to our heart’s peace, we must tune out from the realm of thought.
Now this does not mean abandoning all thought, because when we contact the dimension of peace, silence, stillness and presence within the depth of our being, it changes our consciousness. It enriches our consciousness, heals our mind, awakens our heart. It is very nourishing for our entire being. Therefore, consequently we tend to have more useful, creative and positive thoughts, rather than negative, judgemental or destructive thoughts. The realm of thought completely loses its menace, especially when we realise that we actually choose which thoughts we give our attention to.
In an unaware mind, pretty much all thoughts get attention. Thoughts stream through the mind, and because for many people their attention is predominantly in their mind, their reality is made up of the thoughts that pass through there.
However, in a mind which is more awake to other states of consciousness – including the emotional level, the intuitive level, the sensual level etc – thought is not everything. It is not given such importance, because the person realises that these other realms of perception also hold value, and some more than others.
And so we become discerning; with how much attention we give our thoughts, how much attention we give our emotions; and we learn of the greater pleasures that reality has to offer us, that offer us so much more depth than thought and so much more serenity than emotion. Seeing this is a very important part of us being able to consciously choose an experience other than thought, other than the ups and downs of emotion – both of which actually go hand in hand.
Therefore, if we want to choose to directly experience the peace in our heart, we have to stop thinking first. We can of course think about the peace in our heart, but until we move out of our thinking mind, we cannot experience its depth. And everyone , whether they know it or not, needs to experience the depth of their heart. The human being is in fact built to do so, because our heart is the centre of our being, and needs more of our attention than any other part. And coincidentally, we find that when we do give our heart more attention, we feel happier, we experience a deeper sense of contentment, we feel much more connected to our self and also to the beautiful natural world around us. It is quite obvious that our attention belongs there, because nothing else brings us this rich experience of life.
So, if we are to enjoy having more awareness in our heart, we have to bring our attention out of the realm of thoughts. It cannot fully be in both places at the same time. When our attention is divided, the depth of our experience is also divided. But if we focus on one area, we become immersed in it. When you practice observing your mind, you will find that it is very hard to be aware of a thought and of something else at the same time. We have to decide where we want to be, and what we want to experience, and not be half-hearted about it. We need to be total.
So to bring our awareness out of thinking, and into more nourishing realms of our being, we have to move our attention. It will not happen by itself, because thought is very compulsive and has its own gravitational pull. We have to consciously choose to move our attention elsewhere.
We are in fact doing this all day long – moving our attention from one thing to another. If we are lost in our thoughts, then someone asks us a question and wants to speak to us, we have to move our attention onto that person, so that we can communicate with them properly. This happens in many other areas of our life, so we are moving our attention all the time, and often we are doing it consciously. And this is exactly what meditation is. It is consciously moving our attention away from one thing (thought) onto another thing (our experience of ‘being’). The only thing that makes this challenging for some people is that they don’t know how to access the realm of feeling, or the realm of being. They are intangible realms for some people – just concepts.
But is it really so hard to move your attention onto your physical sense of feeling? Not at all, because everyone is aware of how their body feels. If I ask you now how your body feels, you might notice that it is perhaps slightly tense in areas, perhaps aching in some parts. Or you might notice that it feels good – relaxed and energised all over. You might notice that your body feels like it needs a rest, or perhaps it is too hot or cold… we can all be aware of such things. It is easy.
The only challenge is remaining aware of our body, because the mind wants to pull our attention back into thinking. And this is where we need meditation. Because if we don’t know how to prevent our attention from getting pulled back into thinking, then we are a slave to our mind, and our thoughts have more power than we do. If they did not, then we could simply choose where we wanted our attention to be and effortlessly keep it there as long as we wanted. Can you do this? Or do your thoughts keep pulling you back?
This is why the freedom that most people need is the freedom from the compulsion to think. Because thinking is so deeply influential in the way that we feel and the way that we see the world, that our life is dramatically effected by it. If it were not so influential, then it would not matter. But thoughts disturb our peace to such a degree that we need to learn how to be free of the compulsion to think.
It is similar to breaking an addiction. An addict is always being pulled back to the thing they are addicted to, and it holds such an influence in their life that they do not feel free. Everyone needs to be truly free. Everyone needs to experience the depth of life beyond the thinking mind. Thinking is just a deeply established habit that many people believe they cannot be free of. This belief is the only real obstacle, because in fact letting go of the compulsion to think is just like letting go of anything that is not serving you. It brings a great relief, and it simply makes you freer and happier.
If everyone could understand that this is the only purpose of meditation, there would be no resistance to it, there would be no fear if it. How can you be afraid of something that lightens your heart and brings more joy into your life? Fear is the antithesis of joy, and meditation is the antidote to fear, because it helps us to see clearly that all fear begins with just a little thought; a negative thought, an anxious thought, a fearful thought. Such a thought simply gets reflected in the body, and becomes the feeling of fear.
But if we can notice when we are feeding an anxious thought, and bring our attention away from thought altogether – just by breathing consciously and relaxing our body – then we are no longer at the mercy of what thoughts drift into our mind. We have a choice of whether to engage with a particular thought or not. This is freedom of mind. Freedom of attention. Spiritual freedom.
When our attention is free to move toward the experience and the awareness which is most nourishing for us on every level, then we suffer no more. Our wisdom chooses for us. Our attention gravitates towards our heart, as we dwell in a relaxed and healthy body; our mind contemplates the possibilities available to us for benefiting the people and the world around us. We fully align with the natural harmony of this beautiful planet, and discover that we have a wonderful purpose – a purpose that excites our heart and satisfies our deep need to help and benefit others. It is a divine purpose, and it is our destiny to realise it.
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