27 April 2007

Inside Passage

For many years, I've thought that meditation, the practice of sitting quietly alone in a room with nothing but your breath and your thoughts for company, may be a key to understanding the fundamental mysteries of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What (if anything) is real? True, philosophers have grappled with such questions for centuries, publishing enough scholarly papers and books to fill entire libraries. But what about the rest of us? Is there a chance we might learn something important by going inside ourselves instead of opening a book?

Thinking about the value of meditation is one thing. Creating a practice is another. These things were going through my mind this morning as I was waiting at the chiropractor's office for my appointment. To pass the time, I started paging through the May-June Utne magazine and spotted an article by filmmaker David Lynch titled "Deep Thoughts." Admitting that he originally thought meditation was a waste of time, Lynch eventually decided to try it when anxiety and anger began to subvert his creative powers (and his marriage). As he writes, "Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they're like poison to the filmmaker or artist." After he'd been meditating for a couple of weeks, Lynch's wife asked him: "This anger, where did it go?" He hadn't even noticed it had lifted.

Now, Lynch tells us, he hasn't missed a meditation in 33 years. Reading about the lasting benefits of his practice, you can see why.

I meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for about 20 minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases.The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes.