To say you can’t meditate is like saying you can’t stop to put gas in your car. Even in the middle of Times Square among the chaos and Elmo costumes you can think, and whenever you can think, you can meditate. Before I explain further, here’s a little background in how I discovered this practice.
"Our life is the expression of our inner potentialities. We project ourselves to the extent we know of our inner status, and there is much more to life than that which we are already living. Let us consider what more there is to life and what more can be lived, than that we are living in the present." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
One of the things that separates us from other animals is our ability to project into the future about possible scenarios. Most animals navigate moment by moment, but humans have the ability to act accordingly to whatever ideas or preferences we may have for our future. And while it's good to plan and rationalize for a better future, overanalyzing or thinking about it too much can lead to worry, which robs us of present moment awareness and leads to low-grade anxiety.
There are two words for the mission statement for Alchemy Collective. It's at the bottom of every newsletter and on the first page of the website: meditate & create. This is parallel to a Sanskrit phrase from the Bhagavad Gita; Yogastha Kuru Karmani, which roughly translates to established in Being, perform action.
According to Webster's dictionary, the word create means: to make or bring into existence something new.
Mydefinition of creativity doesn't necessarily involve creating something new but finding the connection between two seemingly unrelated things. In other words, where are you finding unity between one thing and another? This connection is the basis of innovation.
"Every individual, by his every thought, word and action, shakes the entire Universe. This is the status of an individual. One is connected with the whole Universe by every little bit of activity. An individual appears to be bound by the boundaries of home and by the boundaries of his own body, but in reality the subtle aspects of the individuality go to make universal existence. An individual is never an isolated individual. He is intimately interrelated with the whole Cosmos. Even more than that, he shares the responsibility for the life of the whole Cosmos." ~Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Our world is significantly better than it used to be. In fact, data shows that there's never been a better time to be alive than today. 100 years ago:
~82% of people lived in extreme poverty versus the 9% of people that do today. ~67% of people were illiterate in contrast to the 14% of people that are today. ~32% of children died in their first 5 years versus the 4% of children that do today.
We have access to free education online today, over thousands of items in single grocery stores, and connection to anyone across the globe with internet and video.
So why are we so resistant to actually seeing that conditions have improved? The answer lies in our ability to construct better images and foster more connection in our lives.
This past week, I was fortunate to speak at Interactions conference in Orlando on the topic of Meditation and Creativity. Before leaving for my flight, I threw a copy of the Alchemist in my bag for the trip. While I'm sure I'm probably one of the few remaining individuals on earth that hadn't read it yet, I was surprised by the parallels of Vedic science throughout, particularly the idea of consciousness being one indivisible field. The theme of Oneness permeates the story but one passage in particular stuck with me:
"He knew that any given thing on the face of the earth could reveal the history of all things. One could open a book to any page, or look at a person's hand; one could turn a card, or watch the flight of the birds...whatever the thing observed, one could find a connection with his experience of the moment…”
Becoming a meditation teacher was an unexpected journey for me. I was working out of town for the summer, hiking Colorado mountain trails while listening to John Denver (no lie) when I first got the impulse to teach. It made no sense to me at the time, there were plenty of meditation teachers already in NY, but when I looked back over the years, meditation was the thing that had helped me reengineer my life from the inside out. To be able to facilitate this kind of healing for others was what lead me to pursue teacher training. Years later, I can honestly say it's one of the best decisions I’ve made.
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Something I commonly see, particularly among high achievers, is people caught up in the pursuit of happiness rather than allowing happiness be a natural byproduct of their pursuits.
It's a huge myth that any sort of spiritual practice makes us immune to uncomfortable emotions. This could not be further from the truth. Meditation doesn't prevent you from feeling negative emotions, if anything it allows you connection to the full spectrum of human experience so you can choose where you'd like to place your attention.
Emotions are energetic waves in response to certain experiences. Both the experience of the emotion and our actual response may be informed by karma as well as our history of past reactions. But if we look closer, we can begin to see what that emotion holds for us.
“Of all that is wonderful in the human being, our most glorious asset is this capacity to change ourselves. Nothing is more significant. I admire the achievements of science, but I do not feel intimidated by the current conviction that we are what our genes are. My body is what my genes make it, but my character and behavior are not fixed by my genetic code. As proof we have the lives of great men and women of all religions who have thrown these claims to the winds with their personal transformations - from angry to compassionate, from insecure to unshakable, from human to divine. The message of their lives echoes down the corridors of time to those who have ears to hear: “You are not what your body is. Your real nature is spirit, which nothing can diminish or deny.” Whatever our past, whatever our present, all of us have the capacity to change ourselves completely through the practice of meditation.” ~Eknath Eswaran from Conquest of Mind
These last few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to be working as an artist down here in Nantucket. And when I first arrived, the working constraints were tangible- resources were limited as well as time. In the thick of the process, I noticed old identities wanting to creep in as well as the desire to feel “special” or to be seen. Ram Dass refers to this, “the puny separateness” that causes us to keep proving we are something. We already are something, and the process of meditation helps us awaken to this every day.
There are two basic operating principles in evolution; expansion and contraction, which is present in pretty much everything from the Big Bang Theory to when we sit down to meditate. During meditation we’re moving from the field of action and thinking to state of Being, or least excited state. Wave (our individuality) settles and expands back into ocean (Universality).
Outside meditation, we experience expansion and contraction all the time. Joyful or profound experiences often result in expansion, whereas fear and stress tend to cause us to constrict, protect and hang on.
When we expand, we are productive outlets for progressive change, but what does progressive change mean? It involves asking yourself what your personal role in the evolution of things is right now, despite personal preferences.
"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance … even our own existence as a species on this planet.
Nassim succinctly tells us: “A wind extinguishes a candle but fuels a fire.” Here's to more fires!
We often set goals too high, too broad, and too many at once rather than focusing on the small accumulative changes that will help us get there. As a result, old neural patterning and behaviors get in the way and shortchange our path to success.
Instead of hard pressed resolutions, why not set dynamic, fluid intentions instead?
Intentions are directed impulses of consciousness that contain the seed form of that which you aim to create. They are the creative power behind all our desires, whether that be money, relationships, spiritual evolution or love.