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What Is the Relationship Between Meditation and Transformation?

I have dedicated my life to the exploration of the profound potential for transformation that all human beings possess. In this pursuit I have had the grace of experiencing transformation at the core of my being and I have always had other pioneering souls with whom to share and explore. All of that experience has brought with it an unshakeable conviction that there is a profound relationship between meditation and transformation. In this article I share my understanding of how, and why, the experience of meditation profoundly enhances our capacity to transform.

Let me be clear that when I talk about meditation I am not referring only to sitting with your eyes closed. I am talking about deep abidance in the experience of who we are beyond the mind. The posture or form that initiates that abidance doesn’t ultimately matter. All that matters is that we move beyond the assumed limits of the mind.

You see, our minds have been profoundly conditioned to remain relentlessly fixated on a certain range of thoughts, feelings, and sensory perceptions that actually lie within a much larger field of awareness. Because this range is what we have become habituated to perceive, we assume that it is all there is to be aware of. One of the miracles of meditation is the discovery that we can perceive more than our minds can. In fact, we are already conscious of more than our minds can know.

Meditation—whether it’s done sitting with your eyes closed or using some other method—occurs when you discover how to remove your attention from anything in particular and allow it to float freely in consciousness.

When meditation occurs it is like realizing that you can fly. You live your whole life anchored to a narrow range of thoughts, feelings and sensations, and suddenly you find yourself floating in midair. Nothing is more exhilarating or mind altering than the freedom you find in true meditation.

To understand the relationship between meditation and transformation the first thing we have to realize is that the entirety of our current experience of being human has been carved out of a much vaster field of possible experience.

We know that our eyes only perceive a narrow part of the electro-magnetic spectrum, and our ears only hear a small range of sound frequencies. In the same way our minds only experience a small part of an immeasurable field of consciousness.

As I already stated, one of the great miracles that can be discovered through meditation is that we have the ability to experience consciousness beyond what the mind is capable of experiencing. We are not our minds and our ability to experience is not limited by our minds. This discovery is like seeing beyond what the eye can see, or hearing more than what the ear can hear. We have much more access to consciousness than what the mind alone experiences.

The next thing that we have to realize in order to fully appreciate the relationship between meditation and transformation is that all of reality is in constant flux. We are born into an unintelligible rush of experience.

Slowly we learn how to filter our perception so that we stabilize in a particular experience of being someone. Within an unceasing flow of experience we have temporarily stabilized into the experience of being ‘me.’ By ceaselessly focusing on a limited part of the ever-shifting field of experience we are able to experience ourselves as a static being.

In order to stabilize into a particular identity we had to learn to remain doggedly fixated on a narrow band of consciousness—the experience of being ‘me.’ That habit of riveting our attention on the experience of being ‘me’ is so strong that we have forgotten that there is any other possibility. Most people live their lives, busy being whoever they learned to be in the first place.

Some of us become interested in transformation. We begin to feel stifled by the fixed sense of self that we are. We begin to realize that we are more than that, but we don’t know how to break the habit of mental fixation that holds our identity in place.

If we want to transform, if we want to expand our experience of consciousness and identity, we have to first unglue our attention from the small band of possibility that we have become habitually adhered to. Meditation is a practice for releasing our awareness.

The experience of freedom is the first miracle of meditation. The second is the discovery that once our attention has been liberated from strict adherence to our current sense of self we are available to enter into a natural process of growth.

Once we discover the miracle of free-floating consciousness we begin to realize something even more miraculous. Consciousness naturally expands.

The transformation of consciousness is what we experience as soon as we stop holding ourselves to only one spot in consciousness.

Suddenly it all makes sense. Growth is a natural part of life. Everything grows and often without much force or effort. Trees don’t have to force themselves to grow from seed to maturity, nor do flowers or animals or birds. Growth is the essence of being alive.

Why wouldn’t consciousness grow in the same way? As we enter into a more natural process of growth we realize that we have been holding on to who we are at the very same time that we have been trying to change. Pushing off of the past is just another way of holding on to it. The experience of meditation is the experience of letting go of who we are. And as soon as we let go of who we are, we enter a natural process of growth and evolution.

Deep meditation allows us to let go of who we habitually think we are and frees us to become more than that. That is why I see it as an essential part of the transformative process.

Image by Alice Popkorn, courtesy of Creative Commons license. 

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