Meditation has always been understood, in the tradition, as an art. It is the art of all arts.-John Main, Benedictine Monk (1926-1982)
I am impulsive by nature. I never plan, never strategize and can only think one move ahead in chess. For the last three years I have buried myself in fantasy and historical fiction, reading at least a book a week. Two weeks ago I read a blog on-line which led me to WordPress. On impulse I signed up for the basic membership and for the first time in my life, other than birthdays cards, Valentine cards and Christmas cards have started to write. To-day I have been struck by another impulse, to return to meditation. So combining the two impulses I have decided to write about meditation.
I have tried meditation before. In my teens I sought the serenity of church buildings. In my twenties I listened to the Christian music of “Jesus Freaks” with their long hair and guitars. In my thirties I could work myself into ecstatic rapture and wondered why I was not carried body and soul into heaven. In my forties I took a two year yoga course which included one evening of meditation a week. In my fifties I became a little disillusioned, or was it boredom, and introduced myself to the mystic experiences that can be had after a few glasses of rum and coke. In my sixties I became very disillusioned with the institutional church……. and here I am at seventy starting all over again.
So how shall I meditate. Shall I meditate in the traditional way. Sit down, still and upright, relaxed but alert, closing my eyes lightly. Or should I engage in some task, concentrating, giving it my whole attention. Should I engage in candle meditation focusing on the flame to the exclusion of all else. Or should I choose another object as my focal point. The crucifix perhaps. Or should I use a word, a mantra, or focus on my breath. So many choices. After some consideration I decided to try a mantra. The word I have used in the past is Maranatha, four syllables ma-ra-na-tha, so I decided to go with this.
Concentration is the hub, the center of all meditation practice. David A. Cooper (The Heart of Stillness)
So here I am Thursday morning 11:00 a.m. I sit down in the chair, still and upright. I roll my neck and extend my arms to relax my body. I close my eyes, gently. I concentrate on the word Maranatha. Breathe in-Ma, Breathe out-Ra, Breathe in-Na, Breathe out-Tha, Breathe in-Ma, Breathe out-Ra. I do this for a few minutes when my nose begins to itch. I scratch it losing my concentration. Then my neck starts to itch and I move my hand from nose to neck scratching. I relax, take a deep breath and start the word gain. After a few minutes I start thinking shall I start a blog on meditation and my mind goes through a few possible scenarios. I catch myself being distracted and start the word again. My mind keeps trying to revert back to the blog and I’m trying desperately to erase the thought. After a few minutes I succeed. Then I need to do a pee. I look at my watch. Its 11:15 a.m. Can I hold it for another fifteen minutes. I try but the urgency is too distracting. I get up from the chair and proceed to the bathroom. I come back and relax into the chair once again. Ma-Ra-Na-Tha. This time I manage to concentrate on the word for a few minutes. When I lose the concentration I again look at my watch. Its 11:30 a.m. Good enough for my first day. I feel relaxed. Lets see what tomorrow brings.
There is gold buried in your heart, But you are not yet aware of it. It is covered with a thin layer of earth. Once you are aware of it all these activities of yours will lessen.
Sri. Ramakrishna (1836-1886)