What's this ∞ Symbol Mean?
This is the infinity symbol, sometimes called the lemniscate. Meditators, even beginners, often make a kind of a lazy-8 gesture when they are talking about their experiences. That's where I got it - from 37 years of listening to meditators describe their experiences.
If you think about it, when we breathe, there is a kind of infinity. The air flows in, curves around in our lungs, then turns to flow out, then turns to flow in again. 8, or ∞, is a good symbol.
Why use the term "Instinctive?"
Instinctive is an apt term to describe the naturalness and spontaneity of meditation. Most people have meditated spontaneously for a few minutes when listening to music or gazing at a sunset. People have access to meditative states by following their own innate impulses. How do we learn to intentionally enter a state that sometimes happens naturally? That is the skill.
Instinctive is also a fresh contrast to the standard teachings, since meditation is often taught in a way that is blatantly anti-instinctive and unnatural – it is advertised as a way to conquer or kill off your instincts.
Meditation is a built-in human instinct. We all can do it and get the benefits: clarity, focus, relaxation and energy. There are thousands of ways of meditating, and one is right for you. The challenge is to find that way, out of the many diverse paths. That is what Instinctive Meditation is for – to help you access your inner wisdom so that you can meditate in your way, your style, your essence.
You have spontaneously entered meditative states many times in the past while in the midst of:
- listening to music and closing your eyes in rapture.
- gazing at the horizon
- watching a sunset
- taking a nap
- looking in the eyes of someone you love
- basking in the afterglow after making love
Learning to meditate is a process of learning to intentionally cultivate meditative awareness in a way that feels natural to you.
Gratitude, wonder and love are natural portals into meditation.
So is fatigue. If you have been busy loving people and working and playing, your body has become ripe to enter meditation.
Sometimes a busy person, who has been active with family, friends, chores, and the tasks at work, will come home and sit or lie down on the sofa for a few minutes. They will sigh and say, "whew." That whew is a tiny moment of meditative awareness. If you keep returning to it, you may find that the fatigue you feel turns into a pleasant buzz of fatigue permeating your body. The more you allow the exhaustion to flood your body, the more quickly you will be restored.
Grief is another door into meditation. If you have experienced intense loss, you know that it changes your entire map of the world. You feel that you are no longer the same person, and the world is empty. This is often the way people feel when they have loved deeply, and lost. When this happens, we are plunged involuntarily into a process of witness the death of the part of us who loved, and we don't know for sure if we will ever come out. This grieving process takes us into many meditative moments, when we are awake in the middle of the night, alone in a crowd, sitting somewhere and feeling stunned, and just generally sinking into darkness. We hardly know ourselves. And yet, over time, as we attend to this inner process, we re-emerge. The sun starts shining again. We are utterly altered and rearranged, and we can start living again.
There are types of meditation that go with each stage of the life cycle – adolescence, studying, entering the work force, courtship, marriage, birth, raising children and suffering the pangs as they become independent and leave home, and so on.
There are meditations that go with each type of person, and there are tens of thousands of important distinctions. And beyond that, no one is a "generic person." Each of us has unique qualities, ways we don't fit the mold, and these need to be converted from what feels like a curse, to a gift.
The meditation traditions of the world have preserved many thousands of different techniques. The knowledge that is lacking is which technique goes with which type of person.
When you find the technique that suits you, you'll feel that it supports your life as it is now and it nourishes the person you are wanting to become. The meditation will be an affirmation of your being.
Doing someone else's meditation is like trying to live someone else's life. It might be entertaining for awhile, even educational at the same time that it is weakening you. Some day you will want to get back to rediscovering who you are. If you feel that a meditation practice is in any way undermining of who you are, make careful note, for the effect may be like taking a medicine you don't need.
Meditation in the past has been used to obliterate individuality. This is because sometimes a person has to do whatever it takes to fit into the ashram, monastery, lamasery to which they have been assigned. What is it to be a monk? You give up your name, your identity, your family, your clothes, your money, your desires, and your individuality.
The point of meditation in the past was to help you to merge with the herd, and become a happily submissive unit, blissfully bowing down to kiss the feet of the Dominant One, the Fearless Leader.
Learn to Trust Your Instincts
Anything that can strengthen you can also weaken you, if overdone.
For example, exercise strengthens you, but if you do not have enough rest between exercise sessions, your body will break down. Walking for hours may be enjoyable and vitalizing, but walking nonstop for 24 hours without enough water may damage your joints and organs.
Armies the world over use forced exercise to break the independent spirit of recruits and condition them to follow orders without question. Monasteries the world over use certain types of meditation to break the egos of recruits and make them compliant, submissive members of the religious order. Armies and monasteries seek to break and redirect the instincts of an individual. But if you are not in a monastery and you do monastic-type meditation, you may just become weak-willed, submissive and easily manipulated.
When you approach meditation, do only that which strengthens you – this is not mystical, you can sense it in your daily life.
Instinctive Meditation is an approach to learning and practicing meditation that focuses on your individuality, so that you thrive in daily life and do not become dependent on gurus and external authorities.