When I mentioned I was learning meditation on the weekend, my colleague asked “Where are you going away to learn meditation?” When I responded with “Paddington”, she was bemused. Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about withdrawing from life, but learning how to access that space within ourselves, where we are able to enjoy the experience of life fully, without being overwhelmed or consumed by it.
A common analogy we like to use is that its a bit like going to the movies. If you get to the cinema late, sometimes you end up sitting in the front row. The giant movie screen feels like it is in your face, and it can be difficult to watch the movie that close and the sound is way too loud. But it doesn’t mean we leave the cinema, because we still want to watch the movie, right? All we need to do is move back a few rows in the cinema.
Now we don’t want to move right to the back of the cinema either, because then the screen is too far away and the sound quality may not be so good. Sitting back row is no more satisfying than sitting in the front row.
The sweet spot is in the middle of the cinema. That’s where the screen is at just the right distance and the surround sound is at its optimal. We can sit comfortably, and really experience the movie – be taken in and engaged with the story and characters in the movie – while still maintaining an awareness of ourselves in the seat and the cinema. This is what we refer to the Goldilocks phenomenon – you know, “not too hot, not too cold, just right”.
We don’t wish to be so close to the experience as to be consumed by it, but not so far away as to be disconnected from it. Rather, we want to be right at that beautiful point of convergence – where we get to experience and engage with everything and everyone in our life, without being overwhelmed by any of it.
This is what we are looking to achieve with meditation. The day-to-day rigors of modern living are pulling us further and further into the business (or as I like to say “busyness”) of life, and the more enmeshed we are, the more our experience of life becomes overwhelming and uncomfortable. This is the basis for life being stressful and not a lot of fun.
When we sit down and meditate, we move beyond our current experience and gain a greater perspective on the whole of our experience. Its referred to as gaining “conscious altitude” and we get the opportunity to view ourselves and our experience of life in a deeper context and perspective. This instills calmness, clarity, creativity, energy, intelligence in our minds, and this prints out in the body as greater wellbeing.