Meditation. It’s not what you think.

Meditation, you probably have a pretty good idea of what it is.
Stress reduction. Relaxation. Mindfulness. People sitting or laying in silent serenity.

You are right. Meditation is all of these things, and for many, that is all the medicine that is required. Yet for some of us, meditation can be something more. If you are committed enough, you may find it gives you a glimpse of something numinous. Something vital that has always been right there with you, as close as your nose…yet hidden behind a thick patina of habitual thoughts, internalised beliefs, the limits of our language, and a steadfast feeling of being separate. Separate from everything.

If you have some inkling of what I am talking about (and if you are still with me here, I sense you do)… if you have this nagging background drone of this-is-not-quite-it-ness, then perhaps a regular meditation practice will be worth exploring. I can’t explain it any more than that. You will have to see for yourself.

Unfortunately, these days meditation has become a product. Commercialised, consumerised, monetised, decoupled from any deeper contemplative contexts and reconstructed as subscription apps, guided courses and business wellness programs (probably aimed more at increasing productivity than facilitating introspection).

Perhaps you have already tried it. Downloaded the app. Tried a few guided meditation sessions, tried some other ones. Found it too hard, or plain boring, or inconveniently time-consuming to do regularly. Perhaps you just feel you can’t do it or get it.

If you are looking to go a little deeper than the stress reduction or mindfulness training aspect then don’t be distracted by the hype too much. Don’t listen to your expectations or beliefs about how you can or cannot meditate. I can tell you from experience, there is something else waiting for you… its not what you think.

Meditation is free. It is simple. As simple as breathing. As simple as getting up and dancing. It is in you.

You and I are dancers in this dance, as is every creature great or small, the mountains and seas, every grain of sand or massive galaxy, the atoms that make up the universe and the whole universe itself. Everything in reality, no matter how old or vast, no matter how unnoticed or small, is dancing this dance together. And although we may feel as if we are separate dancers—finite individuals on a grand stage spanning all of time and space—we are also the dance itself dancing through us. A universe of dancers that are being danced up in this dance that the whole universe is dancing.

Picture in your mind a spectator witnessing a dance so vigorous and vibrant that its countless actors seem to vanish in the swirl of motion: single dancers becoming pairs, then groups, coming together and separating moment by moment, yet so merged as the overall movement that, from a distance, individual dancers can no longer be seen. It is like single raindrops vanishing in a distant storm. The dance is the ground below, the air that’s stirred, the light of moon and stars in the open sky above. We are such fragile drops in motion, but also the whole ground, the whole motion, every breath of air, the moon and all the stars, the entirety of sky that is dancing too—for the dance is the whole of everything. It’s a dance that leaves nothing out.

Jundo Cohen

Meditation is simple. But the place it takes you may be difficult. So it is important to find a good teacher (preferably someone who can guide you IRL), someone who has danced. Someone who is dancing.

So. To recap:

  • It is simple.
  • It is free.
  • It is available where ever you are and whatever you are doing.
  • It requires commitment to open into it.
  • It may change your life in subtle and radical ways.

Indeed, the swirling dance constantly spins out new shapes and creations, gives temporary form to each and all of the individual dancers. From this vantage point, each of us is no more solid or separate than eddies in swirling water, dust devils in the breeze, flashes of lighting casting momentary light and shadow, each there for a while before fading back into the dance. The dance of nature in motion seems to spin us out onto the stage, then spin us back in, giving the appearance of birth and death. But beyond those temporary appearances, we are also the whole dance itself—a dance which happens before, during, and after our limited sense of time. There are scenes during life of youth, health, love, joy, and beauty, as well as sickness and sorrow, violence and war. Yet all are outward appearances rippling across the surface of it all.

Jundo Cohen

Photo credit: @christiannkoepke

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