Wednesday 4 November 2009

A Few Thoughts On Meditation for account of setting up my exhibition in December on the End Of A Life for my website. Paintings galore. Have a look.

A Few Thoughts On Meditation.

Oh no, you cry. Surely not. That is because you feel as I do at the very mention of the word. It conjures images of smug people in contact with the universe. People with a Secret which you don't have (nor do you want). It feels spooky and worrying, you might have to take on Jesus and ask his forgiveness as a chant. You may have to repeat a mantra that sounds authentic and significant but secretly you are afraid you are chanting My Mother In Law Has a Big Nose and the guru is laughing at you.

This is what I think. Meditation has oh so many forms, all aiming at the same thing. Peace and silence and connectedness with Something Other (God, Universe, Divine, Yourself). I have a friend who I admire deeply who teaches meditation. She is grounded, clever, was a city lawyer for years, very wise and she meditates. Good example of a Meditator You Want To Talk To. My mother meditates and bases her meditations on Christianity. She holds weekly meditation sessions at her house and deeply established and admirable older ladies come and take part and absolutely love it. Steve meditated and said it changed his life during university. He meditated in hospital too when he was dying and it gave him much strength. All these people are great examples in my life, so how on earth do they do it? What is their secret?

I learned Transendential Meditation a couple of years ago. The idea was I would learn it and meditate with Steve. He died before I found a place to learn it. However I went ahead. It cost me a small fortune and I was taught how to do it by the nicest sweetest most lovely lady, and it had of course, changed her life. It would change my life too. There were many testimonies about the effects of TM Meditation and I thought Wow. This is It then. Life changing here we come.

Like all things of importance, you have to take it seriously. You have to practice to make it work. All those who have this Secret are those who have put in the effort to do the meditating. Nothing comes to us Just Like That. I learned the technique, I have a mantra that sounds odd to me but part of my TM training is never to tell anyone what it is. That is fine, I don't think anyone would be that interested. And I am a bit embarrassed, it does sound like a household object when you say it fast. But I know it is not, and so I try to pronounce differently it in my head. Which is not very TM. And I don't meditate any more, I find I resist it with all my strength. I avoid the silence and resent the time. I like silence, I love silence, but this meditation silence makes me so afraid. I was advised to meditate 20 minutes morning and evening, and I find I cannot even begin to commit to this, even though I could easily sit in the kitchen and stare at the wall for 40 minutes morning and evening. And when I do meditate, it is as if every thought I ever had comes rushing into my head and I am filled with a cacophany of noise and jumble. This, I know, is normal for most meditators. But I can't get past it.

I am reading a wonderful book by Abbot Christopher Jamieson from Worth Abbey about Monastic Steps for Every Day Life. Truly, this man is wonderful. Meditation and Silence and Authenticity comes together in this book. It has made me reassess and be kind about the rather passionate avoidance I have to meditating. Just do five minutes, he says. It is hard work. Oh I said to the book, I Know. Thank You. Christopher Jamieson is writing about the Rule of Benedict and so his thoughts and observations are framed within this Rule but Oh. It is telling me that I can't just Do Meditating. I need to use meditating as a part of my journey to God and the Self. It takes time, and is not an isolated activity. It gives me permission to start again at the bottom and it gives me structure and common sense to apply to my most basic meditations.

So back to the avoidance of meditating and the fear of being a looney. I think now that it is too hard to meditate in silence alone without structure. Of course I avoid it, I am afraid of two things. First, I am afraid of Nothing. It is either a con and I fell for it, or I am simply Not There and as empy as a paper bag blowing down the street. Secondly, I am afraid that I Am There and that what I see is too much. And if I am There, and Too Much, then I have Done Life Wrong and the knowledge will make my brain shut down and I will become a vegetable.

To put aside time morning and evening is the first discipline needed in meditation. To be reassured that the silence one expects will probably not happen is the next piece of advice. To learn to be kind to yourself is very important, and to learn to see this meditation as a journey that will slowly mean something to you, just to you, as time goes by. And very important, to have someone to talk to about it. It is not a fearful activity. It is not a magic activity. It will not give you secrets of the universe, it will not even give you secrets about yourself. It will however, I think, be a long slow road to Silence, to bit by bit give yourself the space to Understand more, either about yourself or life around you. And if you are lucky, a little pathway to God.

So thanks to Abbot Jamieson, I will meditate again, and I will repeat my household object mantra and not beat myself up about it. Tally Ho. Om.

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