July 2015 – An Important Question

Are we too busy to meditate? What about exercise, can we fit that into our schedules? Then there are the myriad other things for which we are responsible, or think we are: care and feeding of family, pets, houses, gardens, nurturing friendships. What’s that you say? You have a job, and you’re active in your local Theosophical Society (TS) lodge! You volunteer at the food bank once a week, and you’re taking a class. Are you getting a good night’s sleep? Sleep? What’s that you ask? You know, six to eight hours at night when you turn it all off, when you rest your body, when you stop thinking, worrying, planning. Or, are your dreams busy too? Life has a way of taking over.

How do we cope with it all? How do we put in into perspective? What’s important? What isn’t? What’s the point of it all anyway? Who are we? What are we doing here? If we are asking these questions, we are too busy not to meditate.  

I often say that I get my best ideas immediately upon awakening in the morning. Naturally, I want to get started on them right away so am tempted to skip meditation (and exercise and breakfast). So I wake up with this great idea of how to begin an article or story that I’ve been thinking about, or how to organize some project that’s being planned, or maybe even with some brand new concept to develop. My body wants to take me into the office, to sit down and start typing, or do whatever is called for. My mind reminds me of the source of good ideas, plans, concepts and the answers to life’s important questions.

To meditate, or not to meditate, that is the question. If I’m on top of the game that morning, I’ll meditate. I do pause to jot down the phrase I woke up with or the bones of the idea I had because these things have a way of dissipating if not immediately captured.

Meditation takes us to a place of balance, or equilibrium, to emptiness the Buddhists call it. Many of us are afraid of emptiness. We’re afraid of losing ourselves, of becoming nothing because then we would be, well, nothing.

 Let’s think of life as a big bucket, a container of all that we are, all that we’ve done, all that we dream of doing. That last part is our “bucket” list, pun intended. So all this stuff is in this big bucket swirling around, bumping into each other, vying for position.

“Me first, do me first.”

“No, I’m the most important.”

“Wait, wait, I have a deadline. Don’t forget about me.”

I looked into my bucket not long ago and saw meditation, exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep all huddled together in a corner (can buckets have corners?) with anxious looks on their faces. “What’s wrong?” I asked them.

“You’re not getting any younger,” they said. “If you don’t pay attention to us, and soon, you won’t be able to keep up with all of this other stuff for as long as you’d like.” They were right. The noise, the clutter had to stop.

Meditation is the process of emptying our bucket, of allowing all of the vying factors within us to rest, to be quiet for a while. As we progress and grow more skillful in this process, the bucket itself will eventually disappear. By that time we will have realized that we are not losing ourselves, but rather gaining the universe, becoming One with all.

With each meditation session, more and more of what we’ve gained stays with us, not as conscious thought, but within us somewhere. It gives us a better perspective on life, brings a sense of balance and calm to our everyday world, and helps us develop that idea we jotted down into a full blown article, story, plan or concept. It even helps us realize that we do have time for exercise, for eating right and for getting a good night’s sleep.

We need to take care of ourselves first if we are to be of use to anyone else. This is not selfish. It’s simply realistic. As all of the airlines say in their safety messages, we must put on our own oxygen mask first, before helping others. Meditation is the first step toward service to others. – Nancy Secrest