The benefits of meditation are elusive to many, even though every religion I know of talks of it, every spiritual practice seems to describe a form of it and every Yoga studio in the country seems to teach it.

So many people seem desirous for what they hear it does… they imagine it bringing peace and relaxation and a Zen vibe to their lives and they want to hang in the beautiful space and have the candles lit and be around other like-minded people……………………………. But make no mistake, it’s hard work.

People ask what’s it all for, what does sitting quiet and focusing on breath or practicing loving-kindness or observing thought really do?

Sure it’s a gentle reprieve for an hour, yes it can feel good and it can be relaxing and many people certainly feel a sense of peace and clarity from it.

The medical research is overwhelming.

But…. those who’ve been at it a while know it’s far more than all that and its most certainly not all so Zen awesome.  Showing up when you don’t want to, being when you feel like exploding, breathing and holding onto silence when your thoughts are racing and your filled with rage, sitting on the cushion when every ounce of your body hurts and it feels like someone is holding a burning cigarette to your spine… that’s the other half of the equation, the part you don’t hear so much about.

For those who persevere, who practice both on and off the cushion and make meditation or any spiritual practice a rigorous part of their daily lives, clearly they’ve benefited significantly enough to keep going, why else would they endure?

I know why I have… my path’s been dramatically altered by a willingness to expose myself and open the interior spaces and look around and then understand… I can’t really even put into words what it’s done for me… I couldn’t even quantify how it’s altered me but in the bible of all places.. not the first place you’d expect a quote about meditation to come from… a passage perfectly describes what the benefit of meditation have been for me;

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

That gentle whisper is what I want to hear.  I’ve done the extremes and the fires and the wind and the earthquakes.. it all left me feeling less than whole.   The gentle whisper is how I find sanity, peace, focus, kindness and sustainable happiness.

Osho says it better than anyone:

“I’m simply saying that there is a way to be sane. I’m saying that you can get rid of all this insanity created by the past in you. Just by being a simple witness of your thought processes. 

meditation room signIt is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness. The moment you say “this is good, this is bad,” you have already jumped onto the thought process. 

It takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the witness, a watcher. 

And this process of watching is the very alchemy of real religion. Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty. 

That’s the moment of enlightenment. That is the moment that you become for the first time an unconditioned, sane, really free human being.” 

Practice, Practice, Practice.   _/\o_