The first time I meditated, it happened by accident. I was 19 years old and sitting on my front porch while the autumn Georgia sun was setting. The buzz of insects filled the twilight air. I was very still, listening carefully to everything all at once.
At a certain point, my attention just dissolved into everything. Watching our green trees and suburban lawn bathed in orange sunlight, I found myself utterly relaxed and then my awareness started to expand.
I was drawn to something I could barely hear. It was like a sound beneath all the other sounds and it was like a tractor beam, demanding all of my attention. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was meditating.
I bet you’ve experienced something similar before. Has your mind ever suddenly gone quiet? Or maybe you were absorbed in a task and suddenly found yourself filled with a sense of wholeness and deep satisfaction. That’s a form of focused meditation.
In truth, meditation is incredibly simple. Yes, it’s an ancient spiritual practice. And yes, there are hundreds of techniques and countless schools of practice, but in the end, they all lead to the same place.
In the end, meditation is the art and science of paying attention. And although it’s simple, it is endlessly subtle. In the West, we go to school to train our muscles and our minds. We refine our thoughts and bodies with tests, exercises, and competitions, but our attention? Not so much.
Discovering the Ocean Within
That’s where meditation comes into play. It teaches you how to focus your attention. And in the process, it exposes you to a rich and wonderful world—an inner world. There, you discover something amazing. Deep inside of you, there is a vast space of stillness and silence.
To get there, you need to travel through layers of your awareness. The way you do that is through letting go over and over again—unloading the burdens you carry with you.
And most serious meditators will tell you that the first time they reached the sunlit shore of that inner ocean, it changed them in some way that defies words.
The Paradox of Meditation
I think there’s something interesting about this process of traveling inward via meditation. You see, as much as it’s an inner journey, it’s also about communing with life. Meditation is all about being right here, right now, undistracted by the highways and byways of your sprawling mind.
It’s an interesting paradox. Going inward also means going out. Meditation immerses you more fully in life because in deep meditation, the walls between you and everything vanish. You make direct contact with life—undefended, unadorned, naked, and fully accepting everything exactly as it is.
You’re no longer struggling to change or control anything at all. That’s a big deal.
You see, many of us have layers of well-fortified defenses between ourselves and the world. And for good reason. We’ve all suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and we’ve got the wounds to show it.
But in time, the process of meditation will expose those defenses. It will give you the choice to proceed beyond the safe zone. And there is most definitely a cost. To move forward, you have to let go of everything you cherish and everything you fear. You have to let go of everything.
What You Seek Is Seeking You
So meditation is not for everyone. I’m guessing, though, that maybe in yoga class, you’ve approached that inner shore while relaxing in Savasana. I’ll bet that you may have felt the pull to a deeper immersion in the rich and even blissful immediacy of life in this moment.
It’s right there, on the edge of this world and another, that you start to feel what Rumi suggested when he said that, “What you seek is seeking you."
If you have, then it’s very likely that you are ripe for meditation. And if that’s true, then you should waste no time, and start meditating right away.