Meditation: A Path of Sharp Turns

meditation, a boy meditating below waterfall, digital, astitva

Today, a meditator came to me to share her experience of meditation. She had been practicing “crying meditation” for some time, that is, she used to cry very loudly for hours, and after that she would feel very light as if some burden inside her had been melted away and came out in the form of tears. So she practiced this meditation for some time, until one day, all of a sudden, her attention shifted from crying to her navel. She realized that she had begun to breathe through her navel, that is, she had become very conscious of the breathing around her navel. Although she enjoyed this new dimension of meditation, this change set her wondering: Why from crying to navel?
            It happens with many meditators that they feel there are sudden sharp turns on their path. When they begin to enjoy a certain form of meditation, when they feel they’re all set on it, sailing along smoothly, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there is a change, and they are required to move from one path to another. They feel it is an unnecessary bother, because if they have become so familiar, so used to that meditation, why this change? Why this barrier?
In fact, it is not a barrier. Existence does not ever hamper your way, never creates any hindrances in your meditation. These unpredictable sharp turns are a device. In the case of that meditator, what happened, she was practicing Vipashyana (a breathing meditation), and one day, all of a sudden something stirred inside her. She felt like crying for no reason. She just burst into tears and the more she let go with it, the louder and more violent became her crying; the more perfuse her tears. She had no idea why from Vipashyana to this crying meditation. But the force of this meditation was so strong, the current was so strong that she couldn’t resist. She simply allowed herself and once she started enjoying this meditation, she felt very positive, healthy changes inside her. Now, she was no longer afraid of crying. In the beginning, it seemed very awkward: for no reason she was crying. I asked her to do a very simple thing, “Allow it. This crying can help you to release your unconscious, to help you bring out those repressions, the garbage of your bottled up feelings and emotions.” She did it.
Today the shift from crying to attention to the navel confused her a bit. The reason is: once her mind became familiar with the method of Vipashyana, the consciousness had to liberate the meditator from that habit. Wherever the mind becomes familiar with a method, it turns every experience into a memory. It records everything and then creates an illusion of experience. This is why, it happens with all the meditators that they have to change their methods frequently because once the mind becomes used to it, once the mind gets scent of it, something has to be immediately done, something so strange, so unfamiliar, so unpredictable, so unexpected that it surprises the mind into silence. All of a sudden, the mind cannot form any idea of what has happened. It goes blank. And when the mind is silent, you see a gap. In that gap, you see a glimpse of consciousness, a glimpse of thoughtlessness, a glimpse of mindlessness. Because the mind has been so surprised that it cannot think anything, it disappears; and the moment the mind disappears, there is thoughtlessness. So existence has to continuously work on us, has to try new devices, new methods just to create these gaps.
This is why, we say that meditation means ‘being here and now’, being in the present moment. Why the present moment? Because it is only now that you are sure of. The moment you start thinking of tomorrow, you have again been trapped by the mind. Because a meditator has to be always in the ‘now’, meditation becomes a very frightening experience. Many people are afraid of meditation for this simple reason that the path of meditation is very unpredictable. Today you try one method, and all of a sudden that method is taken away from you; a new, strange method is given to you and you have to try that.
So, remember one thing always: this will happen continuously, this sudden change, because it is a device of existence to free us from the habits of the mind and give us glimpses of thoughtlessness. Meditation needs a lot of courage. The way we are brought up, we are always encouraged to live settled lives, to choose familiar places to live in, and meditation is just its antithesis. Meditation is constant unsettling, meditation is living with the unfamiliar, with the unknown. On the path of meditation, there will be sharp turns. But don’t be afraid. Go ahead and you will always know that those turns were for your own growth.

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