Sometimes it is about how much and for how long the brain has been used to the same thought pattern. Our thoughts are like grooves, and they can get set. We could invent a million excuses for why we can’t meditate. But, the moment we stop resisting, and just do it, and give it a chance to work its magic, we feel 10000 times better! Yet, it can take a while for the groove to become smooth again….and thus we need patience with our process of unfolding.
Firstly, what is meditation? And why do we need it?
Meditation is a way to relieve the brain of its thoughts. Especially, when we start feeling negative for any reason. Most of our thoughts are repetitive thoughts. They are so subtle that they affect how we see the world and how we interact with the world. Repetitive thoughts create repetitive habits and those tiny self-abandoning actions, make others respond to us in a certain way. They treat us how we expect them to treat us, further re-enforcing our world-view and our worst fears.
Instead of fixing our relationships with others, or changing the world, all we have to do is to clean our brain. Underneath the layers of habituated thought patterns, is the ability to see things differently –that could change the relationship that we have to our life, our stress, our health and expand our creative potential. In meditation literature, this hurdle is called the ego. Unlike western psychology, the eastern view of the mind sees the ego as a hindrance.
What is the ego?
The ego has many subtle layers. The ego is the sense of self that we have created with our thoughts over a very long period of time. Since the idea of a self is a concept, not really a fact, our acting from the concept of self makes us who we are. The self seeks validation, appreciation, love and approval. Buddha thought that there is no self and no non-self, that both are in fact the same. The way out of that was to detach from the polarity of the higher self and the self. For Rumi the way to overcome the self was to love the beloved in a way, that you are no longer separate, thus healing the craving for love and approval. Both are hinting at perhaps the same thing. In Buddha’s teaching, a practice of loving compassion helps to heal the suffering. For example, any feeling of suffering arises from a thought of not having that which is desired. When we are loving towards the state of suffering—it changes the thought, because the emotion shifts from negative to loving. We can potentially start to love all kinds of situations that would otherwise cause great suffering, and thereby, those situations lose most of their power to make us continually sad and unhappy. Instead a relief, a sense of healing starts to come, that can help us start to enjoy life again.