Meditation - The Intellectual vs The Knowing
If you have an intellectual leaning, it is very easy to learn about meditation, what it can do for you and the transformation that it can bring. Books about meditation are a dime a dozen these days. Magazines devoted to mindfulness, an aspect of meditation, sit on the magazine racks in all good book shops and grocery stores. Reading through these publications, it is very easy to understand the mechanics of the meditation process and how the transformation can take place if you follow the instructions given and diligently pursue the practice.
But there is a chasm of a difference between that intellectual understanding, of getting what meditation can do, and holding the knowing of meditation practice in your heart.
My own teacher use to speak about the challenge of bringing our understanding of meditation from our head to our heart, to that place of knowing.
Why mention this?
From my experience many of those who are drawn to meditation feel some connection, some resonance with the practice. They sense that it will give them something that they are looking for, even if they cannot name what they will get or even what they are looking for! Their intuition, their gut pulls them towards a meditation practice.
Also from my experience, those who are drawn to meditation practice are well educated and even if they are not big readers, understand things intellectually.
However, I find that it is very easy to conflate the intuitional pull that meditation has for me with the understanding of how it works, and feel that I know the results of meditation. But life shows me that I far from do.
Let me give an example…
Loving kindness meditation if practiced assiduously will allow us to feel love - defined in Buddhism as the wish for all beings to be happy - towards all beings. I can sit and practice the meditation, and feel a sense of letting that wish reach out to all beings. I get up from my cushion feeling a heady feeling of goodness and well being.
A couple of hours later a good friend does something that upsets me, a good friend, and I have anything but feelings of goodness towards them. What happened to my love of two hours ago?
Transforming the heart
When my teacher spoke about the mind, he would always rest his hand over his heart. Meditation is about transforming the heart, the mind, so that I become an embodiment of what I am meditating on. So that patience does not become something that I lecture people on, it becomes what I am. So that I don’t tell everyone that loving my enemy is the way to be, I am love. So that compassion becomes a part of my ordinary everyday actions.
I am far from those ideals, but aspire to them, and that is why I practice meditation. To take the ideas in my head and bring them to my heart. Meditation takes time, a life time. It requires patience in itself. However, if you have practiced steadily and look back to how you were a few years ago, you will notice a change. Change takes time, but I believe that the effort is worth it.