Making Love With Yourself
Now, aside from the obvious sexual connotations of this heading, I think the notion of ‘making love with yourself’ is intensely important when it comes to meditation practice.
As I said in the beginning of this book, meditation is easy.
Well, it should be easy.
The irony is, it’s that ease which can make it quite difficult for many of us to do, largely because we’re not used to being still. We find stillness uncomfortable because modern life has conditioned us to be compulsively active – to the extent that many of us feel guilty if we’re not doing anything, such that we’re even resistant to the idea or being still.
Added to this, we’re very competitive – again, because that’s the way we’ve been conditioned. From school to the workplace we’ve learnt to compete with everything and everyone. Even in our social interactions – our love-relationships and friendship, we turn benign situations into subtle power struggles.
It makes sense then, that when we begin meditating we bring those same competitive and hyperactive habits to it. We instinctively try to bully our way through meditation, trying to get what we want from it. We push and pull at it, trying to get the tranquility and ease it’s supposed to give to us. And when it doesn’t happen we don’t understand why. After all, this muscular approach works in our life, and it’s how we’ve been taught to be – so why doesn’t it work with meditation?
It’s at that point that a lot of people give up.
And so it is that, unlike any other creature on the planet, we human beings have developed an amazing ability to create suffering from the simple act of sitting still and doing absolutely nothing.
As I’ve said countless times (perhaps even to convince myself at times) anyone can meditate. After all, if a dog lying in the shade finds stillness as easy as breathing, why shouldn’t we? So if you’re having problems with meditation it’s certainly not because you lack the ability.
So what might be missing from meditation, that makes it so difficult for us to do?
Well, two words: Compassion and kindness. Or maybe more simply, love. Love of yourself.
But there’s an important distinction I need to make here. I’m not talking about love of who you are. That’s a story, which in the end, remains just that. Fiction. A story. Who you are is not important when it comes to meditation. Who you are will only tie you up in knots and leave you gasping.
No, I’m talking about loving what you are.
I’m talking about meditating with love and compassion for the flawed and temporary organism you are, which struggles with an imperfect world, in a universe which is constantly changing. The organism which stumbles through the dark night of life, following the tiny light of its dreams and making things up as it goes.
I’m talking about meditating with love and gratitude for the organism you call your body, made from trillions of cells and bacteria, virus’s and fungi all living in community with each other – this body which strives to fulfil the dreams you follow and make you what you are.
I do a strange thing sometimes, if I’m having difficulty with an emotion or some difficulty in meditation. I let go of the practice, and just sit, feeling the whole of myself – body and bubbling mind – and in my mind, I speak to the organism I am. I say, ‘I’m with you, and I hear you. I love you, and thank you for being my best friend. So let’s do this together, and make this temporary life work.’ And I might be deluded, but I feel my body respond – it’s a kind of fizzy feeling all through, as if all the cells and organisms I’m made from speak back.
Then we go back to work – training the attention, learning to be still, allowing the mind and body to do their work without my meddlesome ego fiddling and worrying and poking its fingers everywhere.
Now, I’m not suggesting you do the same thing – it’s just something I do sometimes.
I’m talking about the spirit with which we meditate, because before anything else, love is the foundation that all meditation practice sits on.
‘BEING STILL – MEDITATION THAT MAKES SENSE’, Roger’s new book, is available now.
(The audiobook includes all the exercises, as well as ebooks of Being Still, to fit any device.)