On the increasingly rare day that I don’t put aside time for meditation I feel the difference, which really points out to me the value of taking the time to sit and drop into a quieter space where I can feel far more grounded and intimate with whatever meets me. I do emphasise the ‘whatever’ meets me. Meditation is not about self-control but about self-exploration. Not about keeping something out behind boundaries, but allowing boundaries to open up. We build on our practice, in the sense of developing a preference for staying more open more of the time. I think this is what really matters. Meditation is not a thing in itself, not something quantitative we can be good at. It simply means that we put aside the time to touch base with ourselves in the most intimate way possible. We sometimes are caught up in the idea that this involves a long a torturous journey to some mysterious end that we can’t possibly live up to. That’s just a story we tell ourselves. The reality is that the ingredient that supports the unfolding of a more spacious and present way of being is here and has been here all the time. It is simply oneself. Not always easy to be with, but that is part of the journey and there is plenty of support for how we work with what we experience as barriers. But once simple curiousity begins to unfold our own experience, the rewards are rich and profound.
I can recount a story. I once had a job which involved introducing besuited captains of industry to a wilderness space in South Africa. In the early dawn light these people were invited to find a piece of wilderness of their own and sit still for half an hour. The results were remarkable and a few of their lives took dramatic turns. One person still emails me to tell me about his efforts to find a personal sitting place some place in the wild. Our wilderness space for the upcoming meditation workshop will be a little more modest on the Cowley Road, but need not be the less for it. The common factor in all these people was very simple. Stillness. Most of them could not recollect being still in the middle of their busy lives. Since they were so far away from the experience, the results in their cases was far more dramatic than for those of us who eagerly seek spaciousness on a more regular basis. Stillness means being at peace. It means there is nothing missing. It means working with all aspects of oneself and the world and starting to understand them as doorways that have potential to unfold meaning rather than exclusion zones to keep it out.
The workshop coming up in August will do its best to work with this sense. That there is a generosity of spirit that approaches us when we are prepared to open up to it. That this is our starting point rather than our end point. That whatever we need to be fully ourselves is already constitutionally inherent in who we are.
Derek teaches Restorative Yoga on Mondays at 19.45.
If you're interested in meditation and want to find out more about Derek's upcoming workshop at YogaVenue, click here.