Art of Meditation: Iconoclast View

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 17 September, 2016

Meditation for Beginners

When people speak of the art of meditation, there is some kind of recognition that it is an art, rather than something naturally done. This usually implies it is a skill with rules attached to a specified item, typically acquired through practice. What makes it an art is perhaps the rarefied perspective one might give to it. This sometimes leads to a distortion of the real purpose of meditation which is to still the mind. This is where the iconoclast emerges.

The popularity of meditation

Meditation has started to become popular. As soon as something becomes popular, there is something perverse that happens in my consciousness. I usually feel that something is wrong if a myriad of people are suddenly following something they eschewed a time ago. And when people begin to follow something mindlessly, the iconoclast rears its head.

It’s interesting to me that as soon as something becomes popular, more bastardized approximations arise. For instance, a favorite tea of mine known perhaps to more vegetarian types gets taken over by a big corporation. Overnight the charm and perhaps quality disappears. Or in San Francisco, home to many cultures, we can see it becoming a focus to many computer zillionaires, buying up charm while forcing those who made it charming to move elsewhere.

Usually when people get on the same bandwagon, there is the danger that what was first evocative and compelling gets lost, diluted and even transformed.

Art of meditation arrives

Now it seems that meditation has become an art and everybody is clamoring to know how to do it. Another interesting thing is meditation is not in the skill; the skill is in the meditation. There are meditation camps, meditation retreats, rooms for meditation spaces, teachers of meditation elevated to impressive heights for their talent and so on. It’s become a big business.

As an interesting aside, as a tarot reader, I ask people to “shuffle”(mix-up) the cards before the reading. I try to put them at ease telling them they can easily shuffle it, do what I call the Last Vegas shuffle or do what as kids called the 78-card pickup. For those not in the know, it’s when you just throw the cards up in the air. Notwithstanding my desire to make them comfortable, I often hear them apologizing for “not doing it right.” I try to assure them that it always comes out right, no matter the skill. There is still a look of disappointment when they think they “don’t have it.” I have often thought of perhaps giving classes on “shuffling,” and making a dime of it.

Meditation a part of life

In truth, respective of all those classes and events,meditation is really a part of life. It’s something we do often without noting it. Primitive people did it just naturally as well as people in rural or agricultural areas. For them being quiet was a natural thing to do. It had not become something esoteric that only “meditative or spiritual people” can do. It is available at every moment unless someone places it in a box with prescribed rules of performance.

There are now whole schools devoted to the art of meditation. Of course, we all know the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi style where people pay thousands of dollars to receive a mantra which they then proceed to do 20 minutes a day. True, many benefit. For those who don’t think they can do five minutes which many teachers recommend, I can see how one might be willing to spend a goodly sum to achieve 20 minutes. At a reading, one of these meditators asked me what he could do to become more spiritual. He offered as his bona fides that he religiously did his 20 minutes twice a day. When I suggested that he extend the meditation he looked shocked.

Meditation suggestions

Stretching the art of meditation to include the simplest of efforts, I am now going to make the following suggestions:

  1. Read Beginners Guide to Meditation by Jack Cornfield. As a reputed teacher, he has also reduced meditation to its simplest form.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Breathe five or ten times.
  4. As thoughts come in, either let them go, tell them they can come back later or
  5. Focus on a mantra to your liking. Again, choosing a mantra is a very personal thing. There are lots of books to help you. Mantras are good for drowning out thoughts.
  6. As an alternative, focus on a tree or nature where many people claim to experience God.
  7. Set a clock and put in any time you wish. As it becomes habit, you will see you will desire to spend more time.
  8. Relax and enjoy even if your thoughts are driving you crazy. Who said you can’t hold two things in your mind at the same time?

Just as as the simplest of things become complex, so too you can reduce complexity to simplicity. In fact, the art of meditation is no art; meditation is just meditation. If you wish to remove your thoughts from your environment and bring peace to your life, it is one of the best practices to do so. Good luck.

If you have a question about the “Art of Meditation,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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