Updated: Oct 5
Recognition. It’s like walking down a crowded city sidewalk and seeing the face of a friend--we recognize them in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the crowd, the noise, the pollution, our preoccupation with our own thoughts and worries, and the people who push us to one side if we pause on the sidewalk to chat. We see the face of a friend and suddenly something in us opens up spontaneously, like a fast-blooming flower, causing all the noise and aggravation of life to move into the background.
This moment of recognition is not something we plan. This recognition is spontaneous--it arises in the moment and becomes the moment. It is both a visual recognition of the person and the “thrill of recognition” that resonates in your body. This recognition clears a space in which we live, if only briefly, in the present moment.
Now, this spontaneous recognition that sweeps away the flotsam and jetsam of our daily living, leaving behind a moment of wonderfully undistracted ease, is rather like what we call a spiritual experience. We might think of spiritual experience as opening to infinite possibility in the midst of the worries of our contracted daily lives.
Like a moment of recognition, we cannot try to have a spiritual experience. In fact, the harder you try to have a spiritual experience, the farther away it moves, like some shy and elusive creature deep in the forest. Spiritual experience is that spontaneous clearing of space that occurs when we recognize the truth of who we are at the core of our being. We were just so preoccupied with the everyday clangor and fuss around us and in our heads that we didn’t stop to notice.
And this brings us to meditation.
Meditation is a way for us to sit quietly with our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and sensations without judgement or avoidance. We sit quietly and allow our attention to shift from our minds to our bodies, settling into that space of sensation and energy that’s not aware of the mind’s never-ending and anxious internal monologue. And as we relax and our minds calm down, we settle into an awareness of being that has no thoughts or beliefs, no emotions or reactive patterns of behavior. We’re just being, and have no need for anything else.
And when we let go of our thinking, cogitating, ruminating, and worrying mind, and open ourselves to the infinite possibility of just being--that is when we are aware of the limitations of our usual sense of self. Like the pleasure of recognizing a friend in the crowd, awareness of our Essential Nature as free and easeful being is the homecoming at the heart of meditation.