It has been a challenging few years for many of us. At first shocking and overwhelming, now a lot of us are in a rhythm of working to counter balance the dark side. The beginning of this new year is a great time to return to the core of Hearth’s vision and recommit to the things we believe in, to beef up our own support as we give so generously to the world. Meditation is a great way to balance our activities in the world. Hearth has provided support for moms who want to meditate and bring their practice into daily life. In order to reinvigorate our sitting practice it is helpful to remember why we sit in the first place.
When I was an art student my painting teacher offered the notion that a student has to unlearn how to draw before really becoming creative and that it’s better to not even get messed up by training in the first place. He had learned the classical form of drawing when he was a student by copying the masters and became highly skilled at the craft. He could then move past the rudiments into free, creative expression. What he had forgotten is that he learned to look deeply through these rudimentary exercises. Sitting in silence is like drawing for artists. It is the foundation of all the other forms of practice, such as mindfulness during activities, personal development and reflection. When we sit in silence we have the opportunity to practice bare bones noticing. This noticing opens up worlds of insight and freedom, which we can then bring into our daily life.
Meditation is so deceptively simple it’s hard to believe that it lowers blood pressure, eases anxiety and depression, helps with overcoming addictions, increases compassion, improves mental strength, reduces pain, extends life and facilitates awakening. It is available to everyone regardless of religious orientation or economic position. Among Hearth’s students there have been practicing Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, spiritual but not religious moms and others. Meditation is a practice, not a religion, and as such it does not require any given belief system. Nor does it require a high level of education or special circumstances. It is available to everyone whether they live in a mansion or in a jail, whether they have a PhD or never finished high school. Everyone can awaken to their true nature by simply sitting down and relaxing into the moment. Sound too good to be true? But it is true, and this wonderfully simple practice is yours right now.
There are many delights and levels of unfoldment in store for meditators, from physical and mental ease to a deeper understanding of the Universe and our place in it, confidence in our ability to deal with whatever life hands us, the skill to roll with the punches and to find deeper meaning and purpose in life. Through meditation we develop the ability to weave the dry straw of our life into gold. Starting with our own quiet practice of listening we then bring that listening into daily activities. As we experience more and more connection to everything and everyone around us, a deeper love of the world opens up. Our compassion grows effortlessly out of the realization that we are not alone, not separate, but connected to, and part of, everything. Finally, through the equanimity developed in our sitting practice, we let go of the illusion that we need to control life. We release into an even deeper freedom and order.
Once you learn how to meditate it becomes your life long companion. You can carry it with you out of a burning building and use it to rebuild your life. Through acts of nature, or acts of man, all material things and life circumstances can vanish. The people and animals we love will also come and go out of our lives. But meditation is always there to reconnect us with something real and deep and beautiful. Even when our mind is foggy, meditation enables us to climb up the mountain past the fog into clarity. Through meditation we connect with our true nature, the part of us that is not dependent upon conditions.
It doesn’t take a long time to start reaping the benefits of meditation. All it takes is some good instruction, commitment to the process and the courage to try out a new way of being. Reading about meditation does very little. You don’t become a good tennis player by simply watching people play tennis or enjoy the fruits of a meal by watching a cooking show and you don’t reap the benefits of meditation by simply reading about it. The way to benefit from meditation is to create the space for practice, bolster courage and support, make a commitment and follow through.
I invite you to think about bringing this life enhancing practice into your daily life. Hearth is here to support that intention, please use us! In this new year we will offer support and inspiration for your sitting practice with the wish that you find more ease and joy in your life just as it is.