The Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However,let me tell you what I lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
Meditation Opens the Door to Awareness
In the 80s, I began meditating on my living room couch for about 10 minutes each day. Some days, I’d make it for the full 10 minutes. On other days, I’d come out of my meditation early. Several meditation teachers recommend at least 20 minutes of meditation a day, to allow the benefits of meditation to take hold. So, I made myself a promise that I’d work up to meditating for 20 minutes each and every day.
Finding a place and time to sit is part of the challenge we all face when we begin meditation. It helps if you have others in your life who meditate. They can give you ideas and options about when and where to sit. I began on my couch but eventually moved to a cushion. Then much later to a walking meditation that I use every day.
Meditation helps us focus and relax. It also opens the door to awareness. I learned to listen to my inner voice, the Divine, and a peace I feel inside. I became deeply aware of my connection to the creatures and the people around me. Nature became my teacher, the river showed me how to move around and over obstacles, and my bird feeder became a focal point of my day. There I observed the birds and squirrels visiting every day. I noticed their beaks and heard their calls. I cared for them. I witnessed how they treated each other.
Awareness Opens the Door to Choice
It helps to hear the stories of triumph and struggle from fellow mediators. In my case, my teacher talked about one of his student’s. He healed himself of a drinking problem he would never admit to, How he discovered it was unique.
One day, while driving, his student didn’t hear beer bottles clinking in the backseat of the car. It told him he was no longer dependent on beer to get through the day. He had stopped drinking! Meditation can be like that. You practice and practice, and one day you notice you feel better. It’s not always a straight line, it’s individual and personal.
On occasion, I’d miss a day here and there, but for the most part, I was meditating every day. They say meditation is cumulative. They’re right. Here’s where awareness opens the door to choice. After hearing that story, I paid attention to how I felt before and after I meditated. I noticed my own changes. This meant that I had a choice, to keep the new behavior or go back to my old anxious ways.
Choice Opens the Door to Freedom
Once you discover you have a choice you’re no longer trapped in anxiety and despair. You can find your way out of most difficulties. The world opens to you in a helpful way and there are fewer things deemed impossible. Meditation helps shift perspective. When that occurs, things you no longer need fall away. I’m not saying meditation will make everything perfect. I’m saying meditation is one way of finding freedom.
Meditation’s Greatest Gift is Personal Freedom
Meditation opens the door to Awareness
Awareness opens the door to Choice
Choice opens the door to Freedom