A lot of people are interested in meditation. But I think one question we need to answer, if meditation is going to be relevant for postmodern human beings is this question, “why is meditation important and relevant to our lives in the 21st Century?” Beyond relaxation and stress relief, is there a deeper reason for practicing meditation that can really change our lives in a significant and ongoing way?
I have discovered a lot of reasons why meditation is deeply relevant to my life in ways that are at once ultimately profound and completely pragmatic.
And to sum it up, I would say that the practice and experience of meditation gives me a new and unlimited reference point for making important decisions in my life.
How is this so? To begin with, meditation introduces us to the process and position of letting absolutely everything go. Through engaging with this practice every day with commitment and a strong intention, I have discovered a part of myself that is completely free from this world and anything in it. It’s a place of total quietude and completion – there is nothing there but an awareness of totality and infinity. And it is here that I find my deepest sense of self and a source of joy that is perfectly free and independent of anything in this world.
So through meditation, I have both discovered and cultivated a new reference point in my own experience that is defined by perfect freedom, which Andrew Cohen describes as having nothing, knowing nothing, and being nobody.
How does this new reference point come into play off the cushion and in the rapid-fire world of complex decision-making and relentless activity? When I consider much of what I am preoccupied with on a daily basis, it has little if anything to do with this deeper self or a perspective that is fundamentally defined by freedom. And often, that is appropriate. But there are other times when I find that it is incredibly important to contemplate my choices from the deeper vantage point of this free and infinite self.
For example, I can find myself dwelling on personal issues, stressed about work and time, or maybe I am holding a grudge against someone for a real or perceived slight. Or maybe I am just angry because things aren’t going the way I want them to. In one way or another, my perspective is contracted and decidedly unfree!
And it’s at moments like this when I have found it powerful to hold my concerns or desires or challenges in the light of this infinite self and ask myself, how important is it in the context of freedom? Does it really matter? What does it have to do with the ultimate truth I have discovered in the unlimited ground of my own being? Is it so important that I am giving it all of my attention again and again and again? Usually, the answer is no…it’s not. But without this new reference point, a living relationship with the infinite, these questions don’t come up.
What’s been powerful to discover is that this line of questioning comes from the part of my self that is already free, independent of circumstance. How do I know? Because every time I do ask these question, I discover a deeper freedom, release, and expansion of perspective. If you haven’t tasted this already free dimension of your own self, the odds are strong that you won’t have another reference point to compel you to look outside of your own mind and emotions for a broader perspective.
Connecting the dots between this infinite already free ground of my own being and my worldly concerns has increasingly forced me to consider the fact that I always have a choice in where I direct my attention. And where I direct my attention affects the depth and freedom of my perspective, the clarity of my vision, and ultimately the integrity of my choices.
I have also noticed that meditation is essential in fueling my own interest in this line of inquiry and the ongoing cultivation of my own freedom and perspective. This is empowering, because the more I meditate, the more compelled I am to question my choices and pay more attention to how I am choosing and who is choosing? Is it the part of me that is already free and convinced without a doubt about the immediate truth of freedom or is it a self that is limited and constrained and confused by desire and time and complexity.
What is the relationship between the position of freedom—having nothing, knowing nothing and being nobody—and the overwhelming complexity of life? What does it mean to have this kind of ultimate simplicity of being as a reference point for walking straight into the middle of the ongoing storm of life? These questions are endless, liberating, and rich with developmental potential. Most importantly, when fueled by a living relationship to our own infinite depths, they can help us to self-author a liberated life.