The dreamer and the dream
The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditari — which means to ponder, to contemplate, to consider. This definition implies meditation involves thinking, when, in fact, it means the opposite. To meditate means to empty your mind of thoughts.
Normally our thoughts run faster than a race-caller’s tongue. They bump into each other, ricochet, then come bounding back, jostling for centre-stage. There’s no getting away from thoughts. They’re like tropical mosquitoes or smoke from a campfire — they won’t leave you alone.
But here’s the secret:
Meditation involves you leaving them alone.
What happens when you leave your thoughts alone?
When they’re not being noticed, they slow down. There’s space between them. Then there’s more space between them. And, finally, all that’s left is empty space.
The eminent American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said:
Space is the breath of art.
This is true of all art forms. Music without spaces between the notes becomes a wall of sound. In art they talk about lost and found — spaces that engage the eye and lead the viewer into and around the painting. Gaps in a bookshelf, bare areas in a room, patches of silence. These are all empty spaces that, paradoxically, enrich our lives.
What do you do with the empty space that your mind has now become?
In his book Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday wrote:
Each of us needs to cultivate those [quiet] moments in our lives. Where we limit our inputs and turn down the volume so that we can access a deeper awareness of what’s going on around us. In shutting up — even for a short period — we can finally hear what the world has been trying to tell us. Or what we’ve been trying to tell ourselves.
Just as space is the breath of art, space between thoughts is the breath of life.
When you’re in this state of having space in your mind, thoughts may arise, but they’re thoughts of a different caliber. They’re not the everyday brand. They’re not the cheap option you automatically reach for from the shelves of your overstocked mind.
As Eckhart Tolle put it in his book A New Earth:
There is the dream, and there is the dreamer of the dream. The dream is a short-lived play of forms. It is the world — relatively real but not absolutely real. Then, there is the dreamer, the absolute reality in which the forms come and go. The dreamer is not the person. The person is part of the dream. The dreamer is the substratum in which the dream appears, that which makes the dream possible. It is the absolute behind the relative, the timeless behind time, the consciousness in and behind form. The dreamer is consciousness itself — who you are.
So, there is the dream, the person (you and me) and the dreamer.
The dream is the world we’re experiencing.
The person is you and me.
The dreamer is the intelligent essence underlying all things.
Meditation opens our awareness to these three layers.
When we empty our minds of worrisome, endless thoughts, we release our grip on our particular dream of everyday life. We see it differently. Stress falls away. We let go. We are consciousness itself.
But we’re new to this concept, so we take little steps. We leave the busy shuffle of schedules and worries of the day and say: Now I will meditate. Now I will step out of the dream. We may start meditating by buying a special mat, turning on specific music and lighting scented candles. But after some practise, life itself becomes a meditation.
Living with mindfulness
Job meditated on a dung heap. Jesus meditated in the desert. Buddha did the same sitting under a fig tree. In other words, they meditated wherever they were. They didn’t need props to help them meditate. It was a way of life.
Don’t meditate in your life.
Make your life a meditation.
With love, Marlane