As modern humans, our brain’s pleasure-centers are unavoidably tied to sources of instant gratification and constant distraction, such as text-message pings, YouTube memes, and social media likes. These may be exciting and entertaining at times, but when our relationship to them is left unchecked, our spiritual lives suffer.
In Sanskrit, there is a word that can help us understand. DHYANA.
Dhyana, or meditative absorption, refers to the total absorption in the focus of meditation. It is the union between our Soul and that field of nourishing silence that is always there, available to us, if only we can yoke the caffeinated puppies in our minds long enough to enter.
For some of us, this is easier said than done. Fear not.
We have all experienced the bliss of losing ourselves, that is, of losing our egoic minds, while absorbed in something, whether it was a page-turning novel, a painting, or a song.
If striving for the rapturous silence of no thoughts was difficult for the ancient forest dwellers, imagine the task before us after we’ve vegged on an entire season of Stranger Things, or done the Facebook scroll for twenty minutes.
Fortunately, today as then, the medicine is the same.
Rather than striving to have no thoughts, we strive to absorb ourselves fully in one thought.
The idea is that dropping from one to zero is far more likely than dropping from 10,000 to zero.
So, if we are on the cushion, we may choose to become absorbed in the single awareness of our breath, giving all of our meditative attention to the inhalation and exhalation.
However, as in all spiritual paths, we strive to bring our practice off the cushion, off the mat, and into the everyday. So here, we strive to do only one thing, and to do that one thing with all of ourselves.
Rather than allowing our consciousness to split a hundred ways between incoming emails, a podcast, the nightly news, and what we could have said during that confrontation at work the other day, we simply give our attention to the dried beans we are rinsing, to the water that is spilling from the spout, to the coffee as we pour, the word as we type.
Absorption is an ongoing path of discipline. If we can hold our attention to that one thing for one second longer today, then we did yesterday, we have achieved something heroic, and we celebrate inwardly.
What do you experience as you surrender to that one thing, in this moment? In the next?
Let me know in the comments please. We could all use a little support and sharing on this.
Peace & Love,