I meet many people who are interested in meditation but feel like they would not be good at it. They say things like “my mind is so crazy” or “my mind is way too active.” To me, this is like saying “I wouldn’t be good at playing the guitar because I don’t know how to play the guitar.” Yes, meditation is something that you learn; it can feel difficult at first.
During my teacher training course with Sahajananda, we were very lucky to have a violinist next door. We would hear him play beautiful music hour after hour, day after day. Sahaja once said something to the effect of learning to meditate is like learning to play a musical instrument. This has definitely been my experience.
When learning a musical instrument, we don’t start out playing beautiful music. It isn’t that we just sit and meditate and our mind becomes clear, we are at peace, and all of our problems are solved. Usually, we sit, and we find out that our mind is so much more active, chaotic, and out of control than we had ever realized. And, we begin to understand why we have felt so anxious or unsettled, why it is hard for us to be alone with ourselves, why we are always chasing happiness in some form or another. The mind, always moving, is always looking for something. This is how it starts for most of us.
Just like when we begin learning an instrument, we don’t start out playing beautiful music. We start with clumsy fingers, awkward sounds, and the understanding that it will take some time to learn to play well. I am writing this to say it is worth it to spend this time learning to play the instrument of the mind, learning to meditate. Learning to meditate transforms the mind and our entire experience of life.
And, to be honest and more exact, learning to meditate isn’t just about learning to work with the mind. Of course, we see that our mind is noisy, but it isn’t just about learning to quiet the mind. This is really just a side effect. Learning to meditate is not really about learning to do any internal activity. It is more about learning to listen, to listen to the music of the heart. And this is the beauty of meditation. This is when it stops being a chore, trying to achieve a quiet, peaceful mind. This is when we start to see the beauty of the heart, hear the beauty of the heart. This is when we begin to open to our own inner beauty, a beauty that isn’t about our personality, our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures, our virtuous traits and the traits we are ashamed of. All of this falls away when we begin to listen to this music of the heart.
We hear a silent longing in the heart, and go deeper and deeper. Thoughts or no thoughts, it isn’t so important anymore. Our pain and sorrow, our hopes and dreams, all begin to dissolve and become irrelevant. We are starting to smell the fragrance of eternity, to hear the echoes of infinity. And this is the place where deep transformation at the personal level takes place. As if each time we dip into infinity, into the eternity of our being, our personality feels it and becomes a little less scared.
We start with clumsy fingers making awkward sounds. But with patience and dedication, we learn, and it becomes effortless. It feels as though the beautiful music has always been there and we are not the ones making it. The beauty of the heart devours our entire world and all that is left is that beauty.
Will is a Hridaya Yoga teacher living in California.
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