Only after playing a musical instrument for years did it sink into me that the rests can be more important than the notes. The spaces between the notes brings life and emphasis to the notes.
After years of meditation, it’s finally occurred to me that the quiet time during meditation is only the beginning!
Some types of meditation can be almost addictive, with the intensity of their experiences. Often, meditation is enjoyable and fun. There can be sensations of lights, feelings of wholeness and peace, or experiences of the divine. What’s not to like?
I love how Tai Sheridan, the Zen poet, writes:
backsliding passion easy
in The Bare Bones Dhammapada: Big Mind Big Love
These magnificent meditation moments are only the sweet icing – not the cake. Even simply sitting is more of a practice focused on the meditation itself, not the other times.
There’s something better: the time between, and not in, meditations.
What’s real and so sweet are the moments of being awake, interacting, loving, and living.
“I have nothing against joyful or transcendent experiences. I just feel that for most people, seeking such experiences is a detour away from the life they don’t like very much. A deeper equanimity comes when we learn how to be with our life as it is, not as we would like it to be.” – Ezra Bayda, in Tricycle magazine, Fall 2008
Meditation brings awareness to the time not in meditation, increasing mindfulness for everything. Like bicycle training wheels, meditation can be a tool to help us get started in full-life mindfulness, wakefulness, and living fully.
Meditation is not about the cushion itself. The meditation cushion is only safe training for the time away from the cushion.
Mastering meditation can be like learning to use a canoe to cross a lake. Like the Buddha said – when you get to the shore, leave the canoe there – don’t carry it with you through the forests and over the mountains.