Why should I meditate today?
My not so hidden agendas...
Since my freshman year of college, 47 years ago, I have tried to begin every day with a period of quiet. This has varied in form and content, but has been one of those static parts of my routine. It's what I do. For most of these many years the form and content have been ordered around prayer and Bible study. In the past four years mindfulness meditation has been my daily rule.
Last week I discussed briefly the basic modus of the kind of meditation I do: not trying to get anywhere but here (and now). I recently listened to a talk that reminded me of the many hidden agendas behind my mostly neutral/passive approach to this daily quiet period. Here are Ten of these "purposes" that are variously conscious or unconscious; one might call them not-so-wise, but inevitable and idiosyncratic, intentions.
1. To get rid of a particular emotion or emotional pattern...ie, to get this thing fixed.
2. To improve myself or make myself different in essential ways.
3. To figure out something about myself, about my life, about a relationship.
4. To attain some kind of spiritual experience.
5. To prove something to myself or someone else.
6. To experience pleasantness, bliss or deep concentration.
7. To impress someone (like a teacher) that I am special.
8. To have my ego or self-sense disappear.
9. To experience again or avoid something from a previous meditation sitting.
10. To be a good meditator.
None of these are intrinsically bad or misguided, but if they drive my meditation practice I will, to that extent, be limited in my open awareness of what is going on in the moment. If, though, I can acknowledge the presence of one or more of these agenda items as I settle in to my daily routine I can bring compassion and inquiry to that now-not-hidden desire and get back to the moment by moment experience of it all.
I see this same principle of The Present in St. Paul's description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. I recall my therapist ever deferring to the emotion/feeling of the present rather than whatever agenda item we were dealing with.
May I find my rest in compassion (and grace).