There are many things that get forced into (often false) dichotomies. Sometimes the value of both sides are diminished and the worth of the larger category gets lost. Yes, I’ve even heard arguments about the “real” or “right” way to meditate.

I punctuated the mid-point of “The Year of Mindfulness” by attending a three-day meditation retreat with Steve Armstrong. This experience deepened my practice and gave me greater understanding of the value of vipassana (insight) meditation. Much could be said about the mental factors associated with meditation, yet one particularly useful distinction is wisdom. As Sayadaw U Tejaniya  wrote “awareness alone is not enough.” This practice cultivates greater ability to live skillfully with greater joy. GreatMindfulness

Most of my meditation history has been more about calming the mind (samatha meditation). In many Buddhist traditions, samatha is done as a precursor to vipassana meditation. I found myself really privileging the latter, but the whole game involves a calm mind that leads to penetrating insights into the nature of reality, which ultimately results in wisdom that reduces suffering and may bring about enlightenment.

A couple weeks into my new bandwagon of vipassana, I discovered that Deepak Chopra was leading a global meditation that would be followed shortly by a free, 21-day meditation experience, “Manifesting Grace through Gratitude” that started July 13.   Since then, I have been doing vipassana meditation each morning and joining Deepak for a guided session (using a mantra, in the samatha tradition) in the afternoon. I must say that there is value to having both forms of meditation in your tool belt.

I’m increasingly convinced that you meditate is more important than your flavour preference. In our world that frequently seems to give badges for busy-ness, taking time to quiet the mind provides wonderful benefits. Some thoughts on the matter: “Nothing is so like God as silence” (Meister Eckhart); “Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation” (Father Thomas Keating); “The seeker’s silence is the loudest form of prayer” (Swami Vivekananda, from the Hindu tradition); and from Zen Buddhism the aphorism “He who speaks does not know, and he who knows does not speak.” Larry Dossey who shared these quotations in “One Mind,” observed “But silence means more than simply being mute; a stone can do that. Silence means that a place has been created where a higher form of knowing can enter.”

I’m very much enjoying the increased ease and peace I’m finding as a result of taking time for silence. There are many wonderful resources for exploring meditation. I hope you will play and share your adventures.

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