How Meditation Was Invented

How Meditation Was Invented

people floating in the dead sea

First published in Cygnus Review Spring 2019. This is an excerpt from the book ‘Meditation Masterclass’ to be published later this year.

Having taught meditation for decades, I want to reassure people that meditation is a natural human behaviour. All you need is an instinct be quiet and calm.  

So why are there all these competing meditation traditions and schools? Here are three short stories that illustrate how meditation might have been invented.

The Householder Who Invented Meditation

A woman lived in a village in a house full of children and relatives. One day she felt an instinct to get away from the noise and activity. She walked until she found a quiet spot under a tree by a stream.

She closed her eyes. She felt the tree against her back and the soft grass and earth beneath her. The breeze touched her cheeks. The sound of the stream was soothing.

After a few minutes she felt some anxiety and accompanying thoughts about her family and neighbours. She felt impatient and an urge to go home. But she stayed sitting quietly.

She sighed, noticed tension in her chest and began to breathe more softly.

She stayed sitting quietly, just patiently waiting, letting her body and feelings become more easy. This felt good.

She returned the next day. And the next. And the next.

She was meditating. Her mind and her feelings were calm. Her psyche was able to contemplate, enquire and explore.

 

 

The Worker Who Invented Meditation

A man worked in the city and was stressed and anxious. His doctor prescribed a sedative, which he took for several weeks but disliked its side effects.

Following an instinct he stopped taking the medication and on his way to and from work he began to stop regularly to calm himself – sometimes on a park bench, sometimes in a church or library.

Pausing and sitting quietly soothed him.

This pausing to self-soothe became a daily behaviour.

After a few months something else began to happen when he sat quietly. A part of his mind started to enquire: Who is this inside me who is choosing to calm myself? What is this part of me watching and guiding all this? Wow! Here is another part of my consciousness. It feels good and interesting. I want to sit longer and explore all this.

He was meditating.

The Warrior Who Invented Meditation

There is a soldier who was weary of fighting. One day, off duty, she felt a rising anger within her and recognised that she needed to calm down.

She followed her instincts and found a space where she could not be observed. She then practised some of her martial arts moves – strikes, punches and kicks – at the same time vigorously expelling air from her lungs with grunting breaths.

After thirty minutes of this extreme activity and catharsis, she could still feel some of her internal fury. Her next instinct was to sit still.

Disciplined and self-managing, she sat quietly for a while. Her mind scanned the circumstances of her life, contemplating her ethics and her behaviour.

Her anger subsided. She was in a space of watchful good-humoured equanimity.

She began to repeat the behaviour daily.

She had become a meditator.

A Meditation Contest

Imagine if the Householder, the Worker and the Warrior each attracted followers who copied their meditation behaviour. We now have three different meditation schools and there is the possibility of conflict.

My teachers says you must meditate in nature.

No only in a sacred space!

No!  Do these movements and chant!

Breathe like this.

Don’t do anything. Just be!

Today in our global village we can see so many meditation schools, such as yoga, chanting, Vipassana, mantra, prayer, mindfulness, guided journeys, healing and more. Newbies and teachers often think that their way is the only or the best way instead of honouring and exploring the different traditions.

Universal State

Wonderfully, although there are all these different approaches there is also, I assert, a universal state, which all meditators experience. This state is profound:

  • We are at ease.
  • We are conscious, awake and watchful.
  • We patiently witness and experience everything with care and compassion.
  • We feel connected to the beautiful mystery of all existence.

No wonder there is a natural human instinct to meditate. It is good for us and all those around us.

The above passage was then incorporated into my Meditation Masterclass

 

 

Meditation Masterclass

Meditation Masterclass

Book Cover Meditation Masterclass by William Bloom

Contents

Overview 
Core State 
Frequently Asked 
Questions 
Benefits 
Gateways 
Practices 
Managing Challenges 
Teach and Lead 
Checklists 

To purchase and download click here

from the Booklet

A Liberation

Meditation is natural. How else could it have arisen in so many different cultures, geographies and times?

– To be at ease.
– To be watchful, observant and enquiring.
– To be caring and compassionate.
– To feel connected to the wonder and energy of life.

These are natural.

This handbook is the result of decades of exploring, practising and teaching meditation. There are many different meditation practices and traditions from all across the world. But at their core is a universal state. So it is appropriate for meditation to be liberated from any association with just one particular tradition.

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’ I have tried to take that approach in clarifying that there is a core and universal state to meditation; that there are many gateways into that core state; and there are diverse meditation practices. But this simple model needs to be balanced with a respect for the mystery of consciousness and being.

This handbook is for both teachers and practitioners. When people are sitting quietly who can tell the difference? Silence is democratic.

When people are trained as teachers and educators one of the crucial insights is that effective learning builds on what people already know. This recognition of prior experience and instinctive human skills is deeply encouraging for people developing their meditation practice. It is an educational error to learn the core skills of meditation — being at ease, observant, compassionate and connected — as if they are completely new practices.

This handbook takes a learner-centred approach to spirituality, which has been developed by the Spiritual Companions Trust, a UK educational charity. Our first enquiry is always: What works best for you? This approach is also incorporated in our Diploma in Practical Spirituality and Wellness, the first vocational qualification in this field to be on the Ofqual Register. The essence of our method can also be found in our companion publication Your Spiritual Health Programme. Members of the public looking for trained teachers who use our approach will find them via the Spiritual Companions Trust.

To purchase and download click here

Some Cosmic Humour

Some Cosmic Humour

coloured nebula

Some Cosmic Humour

Laughing out loud does not happen often in my meditation but it did happen a few days ago.

Part of my daily routine is to meditate for an hour in the morning.

Like swimming in the sea the experience changes day by day. Sometimes I am fortunate and I catch a warm oceanic wave. My body and mind melt into a soft flow. My consciousness transcends feelings, emotions and thoughts, and I float in a dimension that is very silken and expansive.

So I was in that state the other day and I followed the guidance of one of the oldest known prayers The Gayatri. I opened my awareness to the being who is the essence of our Sun.

Opening to that dimension I became aware of several beings. Each one was like a cloud of coloured gas. There was a core and a radiance that expanded to several hundred metres.

These beings were human. But they had transcended and were liberated from the cycles of incarnation. Their auras were full of love, wisdom and compassion. Also they had chosen to stay connected to Earth and to humanity, to help us all along the spiritual path.

It was deeply reassuring, healing and encouraging to feel their presence.

And then I noticed a few more of these beings who had a different ambience. Their lighting and colours were different. They were dancing and twirling. Their vibration was still, however, full of love.

Who are you? I enquired.

 We are the ones who are not engaged with humanity.

We seek to move on from our attachment to Earth to wider cosmic fields.

We are the wild sadhus, the crazy spiritual seekers.

We are the ones who disappear into mountains, caves and deserts — and in that wild solitude liberate ourselves.

Their attitude and resonance were filled with humour, compassion, giggles and a wild freedom.

Untamed mystics.

*

It is said that the most frequently received piece of inner guidance is: Lighten up.