We understand everything through metaphors and falling in love is the perfect metaphor to understand the practice of meditation.
Language is a system that uses metaphors to clarify and reveal different aspects of reality. Words point to things or experiences.
Generally we assume that the language we use to describe things doesn’t affect what they are.
But when we use words to describe something as subtle as meditation, the metaphors actually shape our experience of it.
The Metaphor of Practice
The metaphors that we use to help us understand meditation and orient us in particular ways. They open us to certain possibilities and close us to others.
The most common metaphor used to understand meditation is as a practice.
The metaphor of practice can be very valuable in certain ways, but when we relate to meditation as a practice, it becomes something like practicing the piano, and the goal of meditation would be to improve your performance.
This is not necessarily the best way to think about meditation because meditation is not about performing.
Letting Go of Goal-Oriented Practice
The metaphor of practice engages goal-oriented sensibilities and triggers our willfulness in ways that will not support the surrender that meditation is.
Meditation is not something you get better at. It is not a skill. It is an act of surrender that demands the complete relinquishment of all willful efforts of control and manipulation.
A practice is something we do in order to improve, or in an effort to perform better later. I practice the piano in order to be able to perform better at some later point in time. Practicing the piano is a means to an end. You do it for a purpose.
Meditation Is Not A Means To An End
Meditation is an end in itself. Your don’t meditate so that something else can happen. Meditation is its own goal.
If we think of meditation as a practice it is in danger of becoming a means to an end. It becomes something we do for a reason.
Often we approach meditation in the hopes of having an experience of awakening, or attaining higher levels of peace and relaxation. If this is the case, our attention is focused on the future and our meditation practice actually pulls us away from the present moment.
When you are performing on stage, you are fully present because you know that this is the moment you have been preparing for. This level of presence is exactly what we want to bring to our meditation practice.
Holding our meditation as a practice can dull the vibrancy and immediacy of the present moment by holding us in spellbound anticipation of an event that we imagine will happen later.
This is diametrically opposed to what meditation is all about.
A Total Embrace Of This Very Moment
Meditation asks us to let go of any habits that keep us fixated on the future. It is supposed to relieve us of any sense that we are living in the meantime prior to the main event.
To the extent that we believe that what really matters will happen later, we will abide in a perpetually dissatisfied relationship to the present in which this moment will appear as deficient as compared to some imagined future.
The purpose of meditation is to let go of the future and fall into a deep appreciation of the present. This instant, the one we are sharing right now, is the one that matters.
This present moment is the only place where life actually happens. This moment is the one we want to pour all of your energy into, because it is the only moment there is.
Meditation is a total embrace of this very moment. In true meditation there is no holding back, no postponing, no conserving energy for the future. It is a total re- lease into this very moment of being.
Meditation Is Like Falling In Love
The metaphor of falling in love is exquisitely attuned to what meditation really is.
By adopting the same inner sensitivity and receptivity that we experience when we fall in love, we discover the exact inner postures that allow us to give ourselves completely to the experience of the present moment.
Meditation becomes the practice of falling in love with what is.
We have all had the experience of falling in love. When you fall in love, you enter into a particular state of consciousness. You become deeply attentive and aware of the beloved. You notice everything about them.
In a very natural way you are deeply open to them.
The whole event of falling in love feels like a celebration of life, a celebration of the other, and a celebration of yourself. There is no sense of waiting for something better to happen later.
When we are falling in love we know that this is what matters.
This moment with the beloved is the moment that matters because it is the one we are actually sharing. The quality of immediacy that we experience when falling in love is exactly the quality that we want to cultivate in our meditation practice.
It is the quality of being deeply in love with consciousness, infatuated with the miracle of being aware. As we sit in meditation, we allow ourselves to be moved by the richness, the beauty, the tragedy and the challenge of the human experience.
By sitting and loving exactly what is, ‘what is’ continually opens, expands, awakens and transforms. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to connect with this celebration of awakening.
The Difference Between Practice And Falling In Love
Notice the difference in your experience of meditation when it is described in terms of falling in love rather than as a practice.
When we emphasize practice our orientation becomes more technical. We assume there is a right way to meditate that will allow us to achieve something.
It creates a sense of separation from the goal. It encourages striving, which is exactly the habit of mind that meditation is an opportunity to let go of.
Meditation brings us into the direct recognition that this is it. This is the moment where life is actually happening. This is always that moment. Life always happens now, never in the future.
The future only exists in our imagination. The past only exists in memory. Everything that is, is now. Even our memories of the past and our ideas about the future exist now, in the only moment that is.
Life occurs in the present. Life is now. Meditation is the activity of being present to the reality of now. Meditation is falling in love with what is.
Meditation Is Not Something You Do
Meditation is like falling in love, and like falling in love, it is not something you do. It’s something that happens. You can’t make yourself fall in love.
You find yourself falling in love, but once you do, you have the choice to allow yourself to be taken by it or not. You can lean in the direction of love, or you can choose to resist it.
In the same way, meditation is not something you do; it is something that happens. It is something you find yourself in and then you either choose to lean into it or resist it.
As you sit in meditation see if you can find the meditation that is already happening…the meditation that was there before you sat down.
Can you find the meditation that has already begun? Can you find the place where you are always falling in love with this moment?
Meditate Like You’re Falling In Love
No matter what arises in your experience as you meditate, hold it with the arms of a lover, with joy, care, and deep tenderness.
Meditate with a loving heart as well as a discerning mind. Care for the experience of this moment as if it were your dearest love.
Embrace this moment with everything you have. Accept it exactly the way it is. Be intimate with it. Experience it completely. Open into ever-greater receptivity and deeper presence.
Be devoted in your love.
Know that this is the only moment to give yourself to. It is the only moment you can fall in love with.
Allow yourself to be swept up in a divine communion with this moment exactly as it is. Whatever it is – joyful, painful, illuminating, confusing – know that this is it.
Allow yourself to find the love of life that brought you into this world in the first place. Embrace that love as the only true meditation there is and allow it to take you into the unimaginable.