Exercising Consciousness: Meditation as a Guidebook
Jun 01, 2015 01:32AM
● By Urgyan Zangpo
“Meditation is the science and art of learning to thrive.”
If life is a journey, it can be well-traveled by consciously exploring the terrain while en route. Meditation puts you decisively in the driver’s seat. It gives life traction, drawing you into your human capacity to grow vigorously and flourish. Nothing satisfies quite like making a conscious experiment of experience. Meditation explores new avenues to access parts of your lives that have been previously hidden. It also guides you forward, creatively helping you tour life—turning it into an opportunity to learn how to live well. In fact, functional well-being is the chief characteristic of wholeness, which does far more than add up piecemeal experiences.
Wholeness is a qualitative richness in which you feel complete and fulfilled. What you want is not simply access to more intense thoughts and feelings but rather a discerning appreciation for life, a sensitive awareness of the whole of a situation, or a wisdom whose illuminating power awakens you to universal truths. These reflect the ability of consciousness to grow holistically. For example, self-awareness is not merely introspection or reflection on some inner human nature. It is the ability of awareness to reflect on itself, to use existing knowledge to learn profoundly new ways of seeing and knowing.
For meditation to promote transformation, satisfaction and enrichment, it must make you aware of how you are aware. Directing consciousness back upon itself cultivates an unhindered experiential freedom, which is the basis for all other development and decision-making. By relying on that illuminating capacity, you discover consciousness’ own capabilities. These include the ability to stay open and to accept and release thoughts and feelings non-reactively. In addition, remaining subtly aware of your shifting sense-of-self as you transform – and abiding in love – helps your consciousness to train itself. In other words, consciousness itself is the journey, the vehicle and the driver.
Becoming more conscious takes a lot of good, hard work. You get to decide – do you want to thrive, just get by in life, wither or survive. Meditation harnesses life – challenges and all – into the only opportunity you will ever need to find meaning and value. These are the two most enriching qualities that lend conscious life its sacredness. Meditation is like a guidebook of learning strategies for developing human consciousness into its fullest expression as wholeness. That is neither abstract nor imaginary. Consciousness is ultimately functional. It tells you exactly how well you are aware of your being part of the greater whole. Appreciation and effectiveness are its measures – the more you appreciate your place in wholeness, the more effectively you live it, and vice versa.
The development of consciousness can be made understandable, implementable, practical and available as your most essential aid to personal growth, social responsibility and worldly endeavors. This expands considerably and contributes uniquely to how you can educate yourselves. Conscious awareness lends the power of choice to experience, so that you can let go of deficiency, dependency and frustration. It promotes the power of transformation, inner authority and authenticity. You discover a “freedom to be” that enriches every individual’s way of being – challenging history and all.
The shifting cultural climate increasingly celebrates such unifying principles as harmony and the integration of life’s diversity. Holistic health attitudes and a concern for humanity’s well-being are bridging attitudes and disciplines formerly thought of as incompatible. Meditation is finding its rightful place in schools and other social institutions – which represents a welcome and long-overdue expansion of learning paradigms.
These cultural shifts are effects of the most far-reaching transformation in human evolution – which is and always has been consciousness itself. This is true whether it is called awareness, intelligence, self-discovery, direct experience, awakening or meditation. All are expression of life’s spiritual-energetic basis. It is time to exercise consciousness – individually and collectively so humanity continues to evolve into universal intelligence.
Urgyan Zangpo is a Western Buddhist lama and the founder of Thrive Meditation. He offers weekly meditation instruction and practice, spiritual conversation and private counseling. See ad, page 13.