I’ve been contemplating my eyelids for over 30 years. It’s been a marvelous journey. The simple act of closing my eyes and emptying the mind has been completely life-transforming. While the benefits of mindfulness meditation are truly astounding, there are certain pitfalls to be aware of.
1 – Meditation as Escape
Meditation can be so enjoyable that one can easily use it to drop out of everyday reality. I used to spend long hours in deep mindfulness meditation, enjoying the depths of no-mind content. My life took on a kind of ‘beige’ existence. I noticed that my outward life lacked zest and passion.
It’s important to go beyond attachments and look beyond beliefs and conditioned tendencies, but it’s also important to realize that you are also here to participate in earthly endeavors. This relative world is a perfect place to test and practice your patience, compassion and mindfulness. How else will you know whether or not your spirituality is really working for you?
Your life is like an airplane. One wing is your spiritual nature, immersed in the Absolute or Transcendence. The other wing is your tie to the body, ego and desire. If too much emphasis is put on either wing – you’ll fly in circles. You need both wings to land safely.
2 – Don’t Forget About the Ego
Immersion in the Oceanic Existence of All That Is is integral to who you are, but don’t forget about the ego.
I’ve spent time in long silent retreats where no conversations occur – especially conversations with myself. Saturation into this simple silence brings awareness of the Self behind the self.
I wanted to know. So I asked myself who I was and I became aware that I was afraid to see.
Until I’m ready and willing to accept myself fully for who I am really, the ego must be embraced and sublimated into my being.
3 – There is Nothing to Do
There’s really nothing to do. In the process of conceiving a goal, it becomes impossible to be in the present moment. One becomes more concerned with the goal rather than being in each exquisite moment.
It seems like there is some separate ‘you’ that needs to do something. In reality, everything happens by itself. From the point of view of the ego, the idea that everything happens by itself seems preposterous.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said we should not worry over material things, including food, personal appearance and clothing.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ~Jesus of Nazareth (Matt.6: 28-30; Luke 12: 27-31)
The lilies do not have a purpose. They do not try to grow. They do not try to be beautiful. This happens by itself.
When you are established in stillness, and you live from this awakened perspective, you actually live the profound truth of these words.
4 – Who is Really Doing Something?
Since the ego is just an idea, or your idea of who think you are, an idea can’t do anything. In reality, the universe as a whole is the only doer. It just looks like there’s a separate you who goes around doing things to and with other separate things.
Without a goal or purpose, you’ll still eat, sleep, and work, or do whatever you usually do. Things happen, goals are achieved, and you move forward.
Life flows through you rather than coming from the limited mind. You don’t have to totally get rid of the idea of a separate self, so much as know that it’s just an idea, a way of thinking.
Doing happens in the moment, but without a separate doer.
5 – Your Purpose is Now
From the perspective of the ego, life seems like a problem to be solved. When you are fully established in Oneness, there are no doubts and no problems that require a solution.
What we may think of as a purposeful life really has no point. In the hurry to get somewhere, do something, or be something, we end up being on the outside of life, and we miss everything.
When there is no goal, our senses are more open to the wonder of the moment. From that place, you discover that whatever you are doing in the moment is your purpose.
“In this moment there is nothing which comes to be. In this moment there is nothing which ceases to be. Thus there is no birth-and-death to be brought to an end. Wherefore the absolute tranquility of nirvana is this present moment. Though it is at this moment, there is no limit to this moment, and herein is eternal delight.” ~ Sixth Patriarch of Zen
Everything exists in relation to everything else. Everything depends upon everything else. All opposites are really one thing. Each side of the polarity depends upon the other. Each opposite exists in relation to its other side.
Lack of self-seeking either toward the past or future absolves the mind from needing to know. If the need to know or do arises, accessing the Transcendent mind provides the right response from a myriad of choices.
You eventually sublimate the separate self, or the idea of who you think you are, with the Oneness of All That Is.