We were working with a professional group. During one of the breaks, a man approached me. Before he said a word, I already liked him. He began by asking, “Do you meditate?”
The dictionary says that to meditate is “to empty the mind of thoughts, or concentrate the mind on one thing, in order to aid mental or spiritual development, contemplation, or relaxation.”
I indicated that I do meditate. He responded, “I am 100% into science. Yet my mother went off on a ten-day silent meditation program and the impact on her was so positive I decided to try it. I believe doing the ten days really mattered, it carried me through a very demanding phase of my professional training. Later I did ten more days.”
We explored his story and had a delightful conversation about topic of meditation. He then said something I did not expect: “I decided to not go again because meditation can become a problem.”
He explained, “When you intensely meditate, you experience increased awareness and you gain insights about what you should do. I began to realize that if I was not going to act on the things that were coming to me, it was not such a good thing.”
I have been pondering his words. I have been particularly focused on his statement, “If I was not going to act on the things that were coming to me, it was not such a good thing.”
I asked myself, “What does my experience lead me to believe about meditation?” Here is what I came up with.
I believe the universe is a school and I am here to progress. To progress is to advance and develop. When I am progressing, I have a sense of growth and well-being. When I am not progressing, I have a sense of stagnation and misery.
I believe mediation is one key to my progression. It opens my mind and my awareness increases. As my associate claimed, impressions come inviting or directing me to do something that is inherently good. Sometimes the new action is an easy adjustment but sometimes the impressions call me to do some hard thing, to engage in some form of labor that I would prefer to avoid.
I believe responding to the impressions requires faith in the message. If I exercise the courage to move forward, a new experience emerges. By pondering the new experience, I acquire wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge derived from experience. Wisdom gives rise to perspective and increases my capacity to behave effectively. In this kind of learning by faith, I become free from the previous beliefs that were limiting my progress. In this kind of deep learning, stagnation tends to turn into growth.
While the dictionary says that the word self is a noun, I believe self is a verb. My self is a living system that is constantly decaying or growing. My best or most authentic self is the self that emerges as I am moving toward a higher purpose in a state of deep learning. In deep learning, I am discarding limiting beliefs and acquiring wisdom that empowers and courage to reveal my best or most authentic self.
I believe that when the impressions call me to do things that exceed my faith or courage, I practice denial. I rationalize or lie to myself. I orient away from my conscience. To orient away from my conscience is to cut off the mechanism that calls me to live virtuously (courage, integrity, love, humility, patience, and so on). I begin to live in fear, hypocrisy, insensitivity, hubris, anxiousness, and so on. Instead of having a fresh self that is learning and emerging in real time, I have a stale self that is growing brittle.
As I examine these beliefs, I return to the statement form my associate: “If I was not going to act on the things that were coming to me, it was not such a good thing.”
It seems to me that not acting on what the impressions call me to do is not a good thing. Rationalization puts me into decay. Yet avoiding meditation does not seem to be the answer. That also puts me into decay.
This tension leads me to conclude that the universe really is a school designed to promote my learning and growth. If I avoid meditation or if I fail to respond to the impressions that come, I begin to stagnate and misery increases. When I can no longer stand the misery, I have one choice: to clarify my values and purpose. This allows me to reorient to the impressions that are calling me to be my best and more virtuous self.
- Do I currently have a stale self or a fresh self? How do I know?
- Who in the organization tends to live with a fresh self?
- How does being stale or fresh influence others?
- How can we use this passage to create a more positive organization?