It's hard to maintain a consistent meditation practice, even when you have experienced first hand its immense physical, emotional and psychological benefits.
Essentially, meditation is like "potty training for the mind" (as someone I know eloquently put it).
When it comes to establishing a consistent meditation practice, the only way out is through, the only way to begin and keep going is to begin and keep going. To put it bluntly: you are going to be living with your mind for the rest of your life, so you might as well take care of it, and introduce it to your Soul every once and a while so that your Soul can help run the show.
The goal of meditation (and yoga) is to experience the essence of our own Soul. How does this work if meditation is a practice of the mind?
In the science and system of yoga (and ayurveda) There are three energetic qualities called gunas which affect our body and mind: Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva.
Rajas is the passionate fire of creativity, heat and action, Tamas is the heavy inertia of non action and stagnation and Sattva is the lightness of clarity, peace and understanding.
We all have Rajas, Tamas and Sattva as part of our natural psychological makeup, and our actions, foods we eat, thoughts we think and things we experience affect how much of each guna dominates our consciousness from day-to-day. All three gunas are essential to health, vitality and life.
Sattva in and of itself is not enlightenment, after all it is still a quality of mind, and calmness of mind is not enlightenment. But when our mind is in the peaceful state of Sattva, it becomes like a clear mirror through which we are able to experience and glimpse our soul, or Purusa. The soul is what I often refer to as the capital "S" Self. It is the part of us that is pure consciousness which never dies, nor changes.
When we bring the mind into a state of sattva through meditation, we learn to disidentify with our thoughts. They still exist-- rolling in and out like a tide-- and yet we feel a center point of consciousness which belongs to a realm beyond thought. (It is always a misdirection to try to stop thought completely; as long as we are alive, we will have thoughts.)
The clear mind is not your soul, the clear mind simply allows the Soul or consciousness to be reflected in the mind.
When the mind comes into Sattva, it is as if the fog clears on a window, and the mind can witness a reflection of another realm inside you.
Imagine you are in an small white room, projecting, creating and imagining situations which appear on the walls of the room as if on a projector. Now imagine moving into meditation, witnessing the projected shapes and images but not following or guiding them. Eventually you detach yourself from them completely and a wonderous thing begins to happen: the walls around you begin to change. It's as if they are dissolving, but on closer inspection you realize that they are made of glass and are simply become transparent as if they are being unfogged.
As the walls become clear you look through the glass to see a beautiful vista which you had no idea existed and never before could have imagined.
The mind is that glass room. When it is brought in into alignment with the Self, the mind is able to perceive it. Though the walls of the room will never move as long as you are alive, you are able to witness this other world, this vista, from inside the room.
Now as yourself the question:
Where am I? Am I inside the room, our outside of it?
Did you have any insights, questions or thoughts sparked by this post?
Leave me a comment and lets connect!
Sources *the yoga sutras of Patanjali Translated by Edwin F. Bryant*