A recent experience caused me to pause and consider the measure of my meditation practice. Am I accomplishing anything as a result of sitting for an hour a day in stillness and silence? How is accomplishment in meditation measured?
Ah, the great sages of old would likely offer a sweet giggle, and then direct this young grasshopper to stay the course. “Do your practice, all is coming.”
Measuring things, quantifying our experience, seems important. Many of us need to see and hold things to understand them. If you, like me, learned basic science from a Newtonian perspective, then this point of view is understandable.
Now, modern sages and scientists are proving that there is more – much more – than meets the eye, and that “much more” is most likely something we cannot hold, we cannot see, we cannot quantify with explanation. It is beyond the human experience.
It is freeing, joyous and divine. Hmmm. Sounds like meditation to me … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Researchers around the world continue to develop techniques to measure, in good old-fashioned, quantifying ways, the effects of meditation on the physiology.
We’ve learned that our brains change when we meditate. Our biology changes as well: normalized blood pressure and heart rate, improved immunity, decreased release of cortisol, increased release of growth hormones, and so forth.
Also known is the improvement in attitude of people who meditate on a consistent basis. And we all know that happier people live more fulfilling lives.
Now, let’s step outside of the box. Let’s consider an aspect of meditation that cannot be measured in the laboratory.
It is said that the value of our meditation is not what happens during our sits in stillness and silence. It is what happens in the other 23 hours of the day.
It is how we respond to the events, situations, experiences that are the woof and weave of our lives.
After all, those things we cannot change. What we can change is our response to them. This becomes the measure of our meditation.
So back to the experience that set this whole thought bubble into motion. Meditation is not about achieving some quantifiable level of accomplishment. The biological changes might occur quickly, but the mental and spiritual are always a work in progress.
The practice remains a journey, a way of life, free from the western concept of measuring.
Do the practice; all is coming.
Patte Ranney is a Chopra Certified Vedic Master and owner of Island Yoga. www.hhislandyoga.com or firstname.lastname@example.org