Thursday, December 2, 2010

Annals of Meditation

I got back from another meditation retreat the other day. Meditation seems like a practice of the privileged. If you don’t have a roof over your head and food on the table, you’re probably not going to allocate any time to sit and do essentially nothing. In fact, in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, meditation seems like the pinnacle of self-actualization. It goes beyond trying to fulfill oneself through or education and aims at the ultimate goal of fulfilment from and acceptance of what already is. It’s also an interesting result of evolution: humans are a species that supports groups to remove themselves from productive society for days or weeks to just sit still and come back with nothing tangible to show for it. It’s not an obvious strategy for survival.

I feel very fortunate and privileged to be a self-actualized human being who can practice meditation. It started with a vague interest and curiosity, then experimentation, and then I saw that it was actually changing me. In short, it makes life easier and better. That’s what keeps me doing it, pure and simple, and I encourage every other self-actualizing human being to do the same.

One short experience from the retreat:
By day five I was starting to get pretty settled in and experiencing some interesting things. One thing that would happen is that my mind would produce an endless stream of images. They weren’t thoughts, but more like avant-garde film projected in the background of my mind that I could chose whether or not to watch. One time, when I was rather deep within my mind, I was trying to turn my observer (that nebulous awareness in my head) back in on itself. I wanted to observe my observer, so I thought, “What would it look like if it looked in a mirror?” Just then, my mental stream of images produced a mirror that swung into view. My observer looked in and in the reflection was another mirror reflecting back to the first mirror, which mirrored back and forth, on and on all the way to a tiny dot of infinity. I was so taken aback by this clever and almost devious rebuttal to my probing, that I lost my concentration and couldn’t probe any further. Someday…

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