According to Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years.
So, for me, I’ve learned to use meditation as a chance to find what’s true within myself. I used to worry that what I’d come up with would be unworthy, so I’d just glom onto whatever truths were handed to me that sounded good, that resonated with me. That turned out to be pretty limiting, though, as I was heavily dependent on others to articulate my truths. As that became a habit, I ended up being completely dependent on others to provide my sense of self worth.
Thankfully, all of that time wasn’t lost, but rather inefficient towards my inevitable goal of self realization.
The reason I felt compelled to post about this is that there seem to be far too many issues or events where we, as humans, often react without attempting to “get beyond the conditioned, ‘thinking'” and we often dismiss or ignore the more thoughtful alternatives. I’ve have often found myself saying “I wish I had handled that differently” in the past. I’ve felt that with impulse buys, flashes of anger, and instances of following a crowd.
While there have been many cases where my gut reaction was appropriate and desirable, I’ve seen that I almost always could have afforded a few moments, or “sleeping on it”, before making the same decision. A friend responded to me, “well, what’s the point, then? Why spend the time to meditate?” My thinking is that I’ve hardly ever been in a life or death situation that demanded instant response, so what’s the harm in being even just a little more deliberate?
And then, what about those more difficult choices? Take Proposition 8 for example. In the past, I could have taken the thoughts of others (leaders, ministers, friends, etc…) and acted on those. In the past, I’ve often felt afraid of bucking the status quo, of disappointing friends and family, of standing out in a crowd. I’ve found that those fears have often cost me my sense of self and of my living an authentic life, one true to the depths of my soul. I find that meditation helps in this regard and, in turn, makes my life a whole lot easier to live.