Meditation is the “listening” mind—the listening-to-Infinite-Mind-mind. And yoga is a way of learning to be in meditation all day long. In other words, listening inwardly with a quiet mind as many moments of the day as you can for the guidance and wisdom of Infinite Mind, God.
The way to listen inwardly for guidance from Infinite Mind is by being attentive to your deepest impulses about what to say or think or do or be. This, again, is like a wave seeking guidance from the ocean, as though the ocean were something other than itself, and then diving deeply into itself in order to feel out the answer. The wave “diving into itself,” however, is the same as the wave diving into the ocean, for the wave is the ocean in specific expression. The wisdom and guidance that comes from Infinite Mind, then, will be experienced by you as your deepest impulses to do or be. It’s a matter of being still enough mentally so they can rise from the ocean’s depths—your depths, the depths of Being—and float into your conscious awareness.
The practice of yoga, therefore, is the practice of meditation—inner listening—both in the poses and meditations, as well as all day long. It’s a matter of listening inwardly all the time, and then daring enough, and trusting enough, to do as you are prompted to do. Meditation, therefore, is many things, not merely sitting straight in Lotus. Primarily, it’s a way of coming upon the truth of who you are by experiencing what you are: you practice not thinking long enough to feel the energy you are made of. This puts you in touch with the natural joy of Being and the actuality of conscious communion with Spirit. You’ll find yourself becoming more intuitive, effortlessly. And then it’s a matter of listening on the run, of voluntarily allowing yourself to be guided by the Infinite as you live your life and do what you do.
For me, meditation in action—that is, in the midst of daily life—always involves the realization that this moment, right now, is absolutely worthy of my fullest attention. This means that “here” is where I am supposed to be, and that “this” is what I am supposed to be doing, and that “you” are who I am supposed to be with. It always feels as though the whole world is right now and that this moment is the only time there is—as though this room were the stage of the entire universe, the only stage, and you and I the only people in the universe. This can happen when you are sitting alone, listening to music, talking, painting, writing, making love, walking in nature… anything wherein you experience the joy of being you.
Meditation is a way of opening yourself to the intimations of the universe that flow through you constantly. It is the means whereby you exchange your previously small definition or sense of self for that of an individualized expression of the Infinite. Meditation helps you realize that you are a spiritual personality essence and that your mind is part of Mind. And in the stillness of your quiet mind you’ll learn to use your mind in a new and expanded way. Having a mind is like having a library card. With your library card you have instant access to all knowledge within the library.
Meditation, therefore, is not something you do for half an hour a day and then forget about. It becomes your total way of being. It is constant, all day long.
And there is a pleasurableness to it which is free of unpleasant side-effects. Meditation is like a hot flame that burns clean, without a lot of black smoke. There is a heightened sense of energy which is extremely attractive. And of course it is attractive! There is more energy, more life. You feel more alive.
This has often been talked about as the “quiet” mind, and in a manner of speaking that is true. It is quiet because there is less conflict. There is just this hot flame of attention which, in a sense is quiet, in a sense is stillness. But, in another sense, is the most energetic, focused, creative and powerful. It is like an engine that is quiet because it is operating perfectly. And it is more powerful because there is less internal conflict. But usually when you hear about the quiet mind you think of dull, lethargic, less than high energy. The energy of stillness is anything but dull. It is like a perfectly centered dynamo, spinning so fast it appears motionless.
There is something very alluring, attractive and important about being in that high-energy no-conflict place, if only in moments. It’s there that you will receive guidance about what to do to resolve the various conflicts in your life. Therefore, if you can enter into a meditative state by listening to music or walking in nature, then do those things. Become familiar with it where you can and learn to be in it more of the time.
Listening to music, for example, helps you be in the now. And because it helps you be in the now, it is one of the very best ways of learning to meditate. And if you are a musician, meditation will inspire you to make greater music. Through your music you will be teaching people how to meditate, how to listen, how to enter stillness. If you are a writer, you will find access to an infinite well of creative inspiration.
So let’s be clear. Meditation is not only something that you “do.” It is a way of being. It is the way you do the things you do. It is the art of listening on the run. It is the art of listening inwardly for guidance from the one Infinite Mind in the midst of daily life as many moments of the day as you can. This changes all the so-called ordinary things of life into something so-called extraordinary.
About Erich Schiffmann
Erich Schiffmann is one of the most respected mentors and yoga teachers in America. Having studied first-hand with Jiddu Krishnamurti, BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, Dona Holleman, Vanda Scaravelli, Joel Kramer, Rajpur and others, he has gleaned the best of all of their teachings during his almost fifty years of practice and distilled them within his own experience of yoga. From that he arrived upon a path that has proven to have great resonance with those seeking a deeper sense of stillness, peace and being.
Feathered Pipe has been privileged beyond words to share space with him summer after summer at the Ranch. His teachings and his spirit inspire and enrich all. His wisdom continually validates that there are deep treasures to discovered in the search, and that to seek with curiosity, joy and sincerity is to find.
Learn more about Erich: erichschiffmann.com