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When teaching meditation, the right metaphors make all the difference between great instruction and a lack of clarity. I often compare meditation to exercise when teaching. Physical exercise is commonly understood, while many struggle to grasp the technique of strengthening the mind.
This point of reference supports learning. We know exercise is beneficial for our physical health, just as meditation is beneficial for mental health. Developing your practice is like training your mind at the gym, building strength, improving form, developing muscle memory to alter the structure of the brain.
But there is a significant difference between physical exercise meditation. When allowing this metaphor to dictate your approach to meditation practice, it could do more harm than good.
The memory resurfaced. Days-gone-by illuminated my consciousness, beckoning me to leave the present and return to the past. “I miss that time,” I thought, as I remembered a lucid summer from two years ago, a time when I felt vibrantly alive.
I’m content with where I’m at, mentally, spiritually, and creatively, but the summer of 2018 had a different quality to it. I had a powerful spiritual awakening and a huge upgrade in my reality. I’d uncovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed, including levels of creativity never before experienced, and a vitality and aliveness which had me bouncing out of bed each day, eager to get to work on my business, to explore, to adventure.
An adventure it was; those summer months felt like learning how to live again, from a different place. My receptivity was wide open, I’d stumbled across a deeper reality, and I’d never felt more awake, more connected to myself, my spirituality, the universe surrounding me. I was seeing everything with fresh eyes, as if for the first time.
Such highs are common throughout the awakening process, but they aren’t ever-lasting. Since then I’ve continued to grow and develop, with similar moments of aliveness coming and going, with plenty of shadow work thrown in for good measure. Spiritual growth is circular, and although I feel the ways I’ve grown, there’s a certain quality about these months I can’t shake.
It’s an achievement to find stillness in the sanctuary of a meditation practice, and a minor miracle to remain grounded in this state in “waking life.” As someone who is highly sensitive to my surroundings, I’m familiar with the struggle of maintaining inner-stillness when engaging with the world.
But unless choosing a monastic life, we have to engage. So how do we engage with the world whilst remaining untainted by it? How do we transfer the states cultivated in meditation into our daily lives? How do we remain calm in the middle of chaos?
Inspiration often comes from unlikely places. That’s not to say I was surprised to be inspired by the Bhagavad Gita. It’s one of the most enduring spiritual texts in human history, its wisdom reverberating into hearts, minds, and spirits some 5,000 years after it was written.
What was a surprise was how the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna stoked the fire of creative expression within me. Before diving into Jack Hawley’s translation (conveniently “borrowed” from my partner’s bookshelf and yet-to-be returned) my creative flow had stagnated.