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Meditation Retreats at Ojai Soul Arts offer much more than instruction in how to meditate as a technique for stress reduction, life balance, and well-being. At Ojai Soul Arts, private retreat clients discover the very real experience of living from the continual state of meditation. Meditation when it is experienced and known in this way, becomes more than a technique or a practice; it becomes the high art of living as a master artisan of conscious and transformational presence.
This article helps to debunk the limiting trappings of meditation when it is used merely as technique or practice, and opens instead the doorway to true meditation as that which is the art of living itself.
(*These studies can be easily searched and reviewed on the internet, so I won’t reiterate these numerous results here.) The function of this article is to reveal the real purpose of meditation and to help shine a light on how to gain its true value in one’s life.
If you already practice meditation, you have likely experienced times where your mediation time offered a tremendous inner calm and you walked away from the meditation feeling refreshed, relaxed and at peace. And you’ve also likely experienced other times where all you could do is fight to stay still, and nothing but nothing was going to let you stop your inner dialogue of distraction and circular thoughts. (…don’t think “pink elephant” Ha, sure!..)
Keeping up a regular meditation practice can be exceptionally rewarding and it can also be very frustrating! One of the main reasons many people start and don’t continue a mediation practice is because they get lost in practicing technique and therefore never discover it’s deeper method of realization; they get tired of trying to stop the mind, trying to watch the breath, trying to hold the mantra, trying to sit…
What I am here suggesting is this: Meditation is not really meant to be picked up and used as a technique for the end-goal of easing the days tension or getting the ‘buzz’ of bliss. These are pleasurable side-benefits that can occur from the meditative mind, but they are not the primary purpose of mediation. When we use meditation in that way (when we use it to try and stop the mind to enter bliss) we are fundamentally missing the deeper point of meditation, and we are therefore limiting its true power and life-transforming value.
Meditation is not actually intended to stop the mind at all. The mind can’t really be stopped. Only can we rise above and see through the conditions of thought. (The rising above and seeing through is a key.) When we enter meditation as a mental technique and try and use the mind to stop the mind, well, it can’t be done. Wrong tool! Mistaken emphasis! The mind will never achieve stopping itself! Go ahead try…and try… You’ll discover that the mind doesn’t stop. We can however discover the still point (the unshakable inner stillness) that exists beyond and before all thought. This is the place mystics and sages of the world religions call enlightened presence.
When we use meditation to try and stop the mind so we can spend time in a state of mindless bliss, we’re actually still trying to control and manage a desired state: we reject this state to try and get more of that state! This is where the mistaken problem starts. In truth, this attachment to controlling our experiences is a fundamental misunderstanding of what mediation truly offers, and it very easily becomes just another seductive addiction or diversion blocking us from a much deeper abiding and radical aliveness.
I’m not saying that these side-benefits of mediation aren’t helpful in reducing stress, in building the discipline of focused attention, and in enhancing a state of inner calm. These are good and pleasurable side benefits of mediation. But if you are interested in its true power and purpose, meditation offers much, much more.
Mediation is actually meant to provide a portal or point of entry into realizing how to live in a state of open presence and spontaneous creative flow all the time. Mediation is meant to reveal an inner realization and experience that transfers to and effects ones every waking moment. The state of meditation is meant to become how one lives.
We are meant to live our lives as meditation. That is, we are meant to discover the real secret of meditation, which is to discover how to live from the artistry of being open, attentive, present and calmly engaged in the creative and evolutionary flow of life. We are meant to be so alive in the moment that we are right here, in the dance of creation; perfectly balanced, and in the zone of being, doing, seeing, and receiving.
When we are in the zone of being, there is no longer a “doer”, but rather there is simply the enlightened engagement of creativity and playful exchange… or what Deepak Chopra calls spontaneous right action. The living meditative state of conscious presence is where one discovers how to express his or her unique genius because to discover ones unique creative genius, requires being absolutely radically alive to, and engaged in, each present moment.
At Ojai Soul Arts, where I lead people in private and customized personal retreat intensives and vision quests, what I’m really doing is showing them how to immerse themselves in the living experience of continual meditation – in how to discover within themselves the high art of remaining ever-attentive, present, and engaged in the intelligent flow of nature. When this experience occurs, a person’s unique genius is radically and instantly accessible and seen. A transformational meditation retreat teaches more than technique, practice, or method. It provides a direct experience for the realization of what meditation really is: the art of conscious co-creative presence.
What is meditation? Meditation is really the inner act of remaining vigilant and present to life as it is arising, here, in the now. True meditation is remaining in conscious relationship with each creative moment, not trying to get rid of the mind or anything else; not trying to get bliss or anything else. True meditation shows us how to become master artisans of living. It teaches and shows us the path of freedom.
Life, like the breath, is always moving. Unlike the breath we often fail to move with life, and instead work against it by trying to control and manage life’s circumstances based on our past experiences and fears concerning the future. Or, sometimes we just dull out entirely …and slip into the half-life passivity of TV or some other mindless entertainment. We are not really alive in those moments. We’re in a kind of drone state. Sleep is even more productive than that loss of vital presence.
Life is meant to be alive in! Sounds funny but we tend to forget that we’re here to experience and take part in our profoundly creative universe. In short, we’re meant to live as meditation; we’re meant to discover the yoga of being and expressing our true Self.
I want to free up the word meditation. I want to give it back its true power. You don’t have to go sit in a chair and practice “no thought” trying to find that elusive state of semi-conscious bliss. That’s not the point at all! Meditation as a practice is meant to be simply a honing of the skill of maintaining one’s attention and conscious presence during a chosen art (yoga, archery, tai chi, sitting practice etc.) so that it can flower and become your true state of being and expression of freedom within everything that you do and within each moment of your living!
In truth, there are many forms of meditation. There are as many forms of meditation as there are human beings! In fact, everything one does (if done with conscious presence) is meditation. Yoga, if done with inner awareness and focus of attention is a full integration of mind, body, spirit – in short, meditation. If it is not done with focused presence, it is not yoga at all, but rather just a good stretching exercise for the body.
Everything if it is done with conscious presence is meditation. Everything: yoga: cooking; floral arranging; walking; skiing; job hunting; eating; conversing; writing… in fact anything and everything that is done with an inner conscious attention and balanced state of active/receptive presence, is meditation.
Meditation is putting into play the true art of living. It is keeping such inner vigil as to be capable of remaining truly present to life in a way that allows both active and receptive balance. This is why in Zen Buddhism, the most profound teachings and practices in meditation are often developed through learning to give one’s full attention to the simplest of daily tasks. When we learn to live our life as this kind of high art, then everything we do from that state of attuned presence becomes meditation; it becomes peace, contentment, and joy.
When we live in the artful state of meditation we are in resonance with life, which means we flow with it. We don’t miss new opportunities stuck in old patterns or habitual ways. We don’t grasp, fear, or hold on. Instead we enter into the adventurous mystery of being alive: we listen, respond and move in harmony with the creative flow of the universe. This is the real point and purpose of meditation practice: To learn how to enter into and live from this state of balance and grace….every moment, every day, in all things. No need for 20 minutes time out each day in order to meditate. Everything IS meditation to one who has discovered its real secret.
When this kind of graceful balance and poise is sustained throughout the moments and days of living, then one’s life becomes available to the universal laws and currents of divine intelligence and creativity.
Recently, cult movie, “The Secret” has become amazingly popular. Want to learn “the secret” of the universe? Want to understand the law of attraction? There is no secret … just our own unclaimed divinity! Our forgotten divinity is reclaimed and expressed when we know how to make our life a true meditation…when we know how to live as awake and receptively-engaged artisans of the universal flow.
The natural order of things (and the so called universal laws) has a certain flow; they are inextricably tied to the alchemical power of creative presence. This flow cannot be mastered as a goal, strategy or technique, but only claimed as an inner realization, a direct knowing, and a living presence of being. When one understands that life (real aliveness) is meditation, then no practice is required and no-thing can hold you back from this state of unshakable Grace! “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added to you”. This passage from one of the great world texts is an example of how to live the high art of life as meditation, and therefore to realize and have available to you all the creative powers of the universal flow. Any lesser approach or practiced technique is just that: a lesser approach and technique. Freedom comes where the deep pools of inner realization are daily lived as the high art of being. Namaste!
Ronda LaRue is an emerging spiritual author/mentor living in Ojai, California, USA.
Ronda works from a novel and contemporary approach to the ancient tradition of one-on-one sacred apprenticeship for facilitating radical transformation, healing wholeness, and direct Self-Realization. Her first book “Remembering Who You Really Are,” is a contemporary classic on the journey to true self Realization and Wholeness. (available from Amazon.com) See more about her private retreat programs at http://www.OjaiSoulArts.com. Article: The Secret of Meditation.
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