Though you can start meditation at any time, it’s harder if your life is chaotic, and if you’re feeling paranoid, if you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, or if you’re sick. But even starting under these conditions, meditation will help you to clear things up a bit. Slowly you reorganize your life to support your spiritual journey, At each stage there will be something you can do to create a supportive space. It may mean changing your diet, who you’re with, how you spend your time, what’s on your walls, what books you read, what you fill your consciousness with, how you care for your body, or where and how you sit to meditate. All these factors contribute to the depth and freedom that you can know through meditation.
You are under no pressure to rush these changes. You need not fear that because of meditation you are going to lose control and get swept away by a new way of life. As you gradually develop a quiet and clear awareness, your living habits will naturally come into harmony with your total environment, with your past involvements, present interests, and future concerns. There need be no sudden ending of relationships in order to prove your holiness. Such frantic changes only show your own lack of faith. When you are one in truth, in the flow, the changes in your life will come naturally.
You start cleaning up your life when you feel that you can’t go on until you do. Cleaning up your life means extricating yourself from those things which are obstacles to your liberation. But keep in mind that nothing in and of itself is an obstacle; it’s your attachment to it or your motive for doing it that is the obstacle. It’s not an issue of eating meat or not eating meat; it’s who’s eating it and why.
If your senses can be caught and held by something, you are still chained to the world. It’s your attachment to the objects of your senses that imprisons you. Failing to break off the attachments of the senses ultimately holds you back. The minute you aren’t preoccupied with what’s out there, then that pull is lost. You are free to go deep in meditation.
It’s not easy. It’s a stinker to get to that level of purity. You start out with things like what you eat, who you sleep with, what you watch on TV, what you do with your time. Many people fool themselves and imitate someone else’s purity. They do it in an imitative way, one of fear of being unholy. Abstaining from something for the wrong reason is no better than doing it. You can’t pretend to be pure; you can only go at your own speed.
As changes occur through meditation you find yourself attracted to things that are inconsistent with your old model of who you are. Usually, for example, after having meditated in a rigorous (and somewhat righteous) fashion, I have then taken time off to wallow in television, go to movies, take baths and relax. Then, to my surprise, I found myself not being attracted as much as before to these diversions, but being pulled toward just sitting quietly. This new way of being didn’t fit with my model of who I was. It was as if I were living with somebody I didn’t know very well. My models of myself hadn’t changed fast enough to keep up with who I was becoming.
“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.” – Thaddeus Golas
- Ram Dass, excerpt from Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook