By Daniel Tipton*
[as it appeared in the March 2011 Newsletter]
I think that the course tells us to meditate. It never really demands that we do anything in a particular way, but I think that Jesus hints over and over that it might be a good idea to pick up a meditation practice. If you look at most of the lessons, the suggested practice involves completely clearing the mind and being still. That is exactly what meditation is.
I mention this because my meditation practice has become a foundation in my life. I would say that I am addicted to it. The word “addiction” beings up some negative connotations but I think it’s the best addiction I could have. I started over two years ago and had a lot of trouble getting what it was all about at first. I questioned everything I was doing; the time of day, sitting position, the amount and types of thoughts, whether I was going “deep” enough or not. After a while I relaxed and settled into the practice I do now which is 30 minutes, first thing in the morning, and another 30 minutes some other time during the day, usually always before dinner.
I sit in whatever position is comfortable. I am not very physically flexible so I don’t sit in any of the graceful, cross-legged positions. I sit how I would sit in any chair any other time. I close my eyes and let the game begin. That game is seeing how long I can go in between thoughts. The ultimate goal of the game is not to have a single thought the entire time. I tend to go 5 seconds to 10 minutes without having a thought it seems and then I will catch myself thinking about things from the most mundane to the most bizarre. And that is all there is to it. At first I had to force myself to stick to this practice and now I literally refuse to miss a session. One thing that encouraged me in the beginning was the idea that every time you meditate, you get a little better, become a little more whole, and become a little closer to knowing God.
The reason I stick to this practice so rigidly is because missing a session causes me great discomfort. This might seem scary but I assure that it is truly a good thing. When the benefits are weighed in, this practice is worth every second to me. I consider it the most important part of the day. We are awake for 16 hours a day. Would you sacrifice one of those hours if the other 15 would be vastly more enjoyable?
I have experienced many changes since starting. I feel lighter, happier; like things roll off of my back more. I feel like I want healthier things, and that unhealthy things cause me more discomfort. I am more able to be in the moment. I feel settled, grounded, at peace. I stopped eating meat, drink much less caffeine, will rarely touch alcohol now. I could go on and on but this has to be experienced to know. What I do want to emphasize is that if you take up any practice in your life, I feel that meditation is the most worthwhile.
When I sit down to practice now, I literally feel like stress is evaporating out of my head. It feels like the tension is rising out like steam. It is my favorite feeling in the world. I call it my brain healing. We abuse our brain and body with our ego thoughts all day and it needs a way to release the resulting tension. I think this is achieved in meditation. It is a way to tap into our source and re-center us in the moment with God. I think everyone needs that time every day and that is why I think the daily lessons in A Course in Miracles each have a meditation. I think Jesus is training us to meditate with the addition of the most beautiful and profound thoughts that have ever been written.
There is a lot written on how to approach this practice but I think Jesus puts it best here:
(from lesson 189)
Simply do this: be still and lay aside
all thoughts of what you are and what God is;
all concepts you have learned about the world;
all images you hold about yourself.
Empty your mind of everything it thinks
as either true or false or good or bad;
of ev’ry thought it judges worthy and
all the ideas of which it is ashamed.
Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you
one thought the past has taught, nor one belief
you ever learned before from anything.
Forget this world, forget this course, and come
with wholly empty hands unto your God.
*Daniel Tipton resides in Omaha, NE and is a member of the Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]. He has recently entered the ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community Miracles Center and in February 2011 attended the Annual ACIM Conference sponsored by CMC and CIMS among many other ACIM organizations.