Language is powerful, wonderful, limited and misguiding. Tell somebody not to think about a blue fluffy rabbit, and what do they immediately think about? Something blue, something fluffy and something strangely rabbity, wabbity. This is what language does. It throws us ideas, impressions and associations with words. Words can also mislead us when not properly used. In this way empires have fallen, people have died because of a few Chinese whispers mumbled on a battlefield, and the word ‘Green’ has become an anathema to taxi drivers in Brighton, due to the poisonous word-spinning of ‘The Evening Argus’, the rag that purports to be our local paper…but I digress…
So what’s wrong with meditation? Nothing, of course in itself ‑ in fact the act or process of meditation is the most wonderful thing that one can do for oneself. It changes your mind and your body, in a similar way to the mechanism one uses when fantasising. But there are major differences, so that instead of upping ones hormones and blood distribution by conjuring up impressions that make the heart beat faster and bring about bodily changes, with meditation there is another aim and intention, that takes us somewhere else, to a higher place. With meditation we are creating a magic pathway between heart and mind that balances everything – providing sensations, sights and sounds of harmony, peace, and health. The intention flows from the mind, the heart and the spirit, creating positive change at the cellular level. Meditation is the most exquisite healing process I know, but I would never have believed this 16 years ago.
16 years ago I was looking at a daily timetable of the Bristol Cancer Centre, where an entire morning appeared to be dedicated to meditation, and sometimes an entire afternoon. The word meditation conjured up unattractive images – rooms full of earnest people sitting eyes-closed, cross-legged on the floor of white-walled rooms, tuned into a mysterious place beyond understanding. Another idea I held was that to get into a place of meditation one had to empty ones mind of everything, and then sit like a stuffed owl in silence for hours on end, trying to persuade oneself not to think about anything… at all. In reality I learnt at the Bristol Cancer Centre, that meditation can indeed include such ‘mind-emptying’ exercises, but that is only one facet of the process. The practise there was mostly ‘guided meditation’ which is a very different thing altogether.
Guided meditation is about finding a place or space in ones mind and in ones heart, where one may choose to go, and rest in total tranquillity, experiencing the joy of inner calm. It’s a visualisation technique that can also conjure up sounds and sensations. The most lovely and colourful images may be suggested, taking one to a place that may be every bit as wonderful as the reality of a sunny beach, with the singing of crickets and the call of seagulls overhead, or lying in an English meadow, listening to the sound of the lark. Furthermore, there is great benefit to be had in sharing this experience. In a group, the guide can take meditators to a place of sunshine and joy on a dark, cold wintry night. Additionally in a group we can physically and mentally ‘feel’ loving-kindness. Meditation is the most divine medicine one can possibly take. It has carried me out of the most sorrowful states, it has transported me from places of near-death, and today I have the opportunity to enable others to discover its healing powers, its pleasures and joys for themselves. The benefits it brings to those with serious illnesses are astonishing, but it also benefits the healthiest of us, particularly those that possibly work too hard.