Everyday Samadhi: Is Meditation for Me?
Meditation is not just for monks.
Posted February 18, 2021
There is a tendency to think of meditation, and its fruits of higher consciousness (samadhi), as the purview of enlightened sages who live in the Himalayas. At the other end of the spectrum, the practice may be seen only as a way to manage stress. But meditation can contribute to our daily lives in many different ways through fostering self-connectedness. presence and compassion
One of the vitally important dimensions of meditative practice is how it helps us to move into open and spacious mind-states, that make us more available and present to others, as well as anchored in ourselves. It is really only when our own emotions and states of mind are stabilized that we can be genuinely present with people in our lives.
When I (Gitte) first discovered the practice of yoga 30 years ago, a whole new world opened up to me. These systems of Eastern psychology offered life-altering-wisdom and came to change my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined. The fruits of yoga practice were multi-faceted, and yet the most profound rewards were of a simple nature.
One of the aspects of yoga that caught my attention early on was how it provided an expanded sense of the highest possibilities of mind and body. I found that I could train myself to gain more control over my own mental states and I learned to shift them in a positive direction. I also came to realize that the various sequences of yoga poses were designed to work with mental states such as heaviness, fear, or agitation. The same held true for the discipline of daily sitting. In fact, much of the intelligence behind the nature of yoga practice lies in its ability to shift both mental and physical states effectively.
I discovered that every ‘mind state’ had a unique and subtle reflection in my body and breath. Making this connection became part of the practice of learning to pay attention. Without sensitive self-observation, the intricate interactions between body and mind would have been lost on me. My progress also depended on the ability to witness myself without judgment, and to maintain an attitude of self-compassion.
In the Yoga Sutras—one of the classical texts on yoga psychology—these normal and varied states of consciousness are portrayed as a hierarchy of vibration. These states range from the more mundane to higher harmonized and balanced (sattvic). The idea of this hierarchy is that each step inwards, or upwards, that we take brings us face to face with a unique ‘mind-state,’ transforming our outlook, health, and quality of self-connectedness. It is through this inward journey that we receive spiritual nourishment, and eventually come to feel intuitively connected with our innermost self.
It is important to understand that, when first learning to shift from a lower to a higher, or more refined state of consciousness, everyone experiences many ups and downs. This is because the ability to be attentive and present is not yet well developed. It takes time and systematic training to befriend our body and cut through the many veils of the mind. This can make many people feel that they are not capable of meditation. It might even make some feel that they are failing, and not cut out for the practice altogether. But it’s actually this moving into and out of concentration—the struggle to hold control over your “monkey-mind”—that’s an essential pillar of this mental training.
In fact, It’s essentially these challenging states of mind that must be dealt with first, before significant progress can be made. The whole path of yoga is about opening yourself up to the possibility of heightened, moment-to-moment awareness in daily life. These moments are windows into an experience of clearer and higher states of consciousness, and they occur when you least expect them.