An Inner Measure of Wholeness

Meditation can be about returning to wholeness, about remembering our true God-essence. A clue about this concept can be found in the word ‘meditation’ itself.

‘Meditation’ comes from the Latin mederi, which means ‘to cure’. ‘Mederi’ is also the root for the word ‘medicine’. Mederi has even older Indo-European origins, meaning ‘to measure’.

But this isn’t a measure in the common sense of the word, the process of comparing something to a prescribed standard. Rather it is recognizing that which makes us and all things in the Universe what they are, that which gives us our properties, our inner measure. Meditation is one way of perceiving directly our inward measure, the wholeness of one’s own being, through careful, non-judgmental self-observation.

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.–Albert Einstein

It is essential to engage in a systematic training of the mind through the discipline of meditation practice to free oneself from the incessant distortions that characterize our everyday emotional and thought processes, what Einstein called the optical delusion, that can undermine the experience of our intrinsic wholeness.

Seeing ourselves and our world with eyes of wholeness means recognizing that nothing occurs in isolation. Seeing in this way we can perceive the intrinsic web of interconnectedness underlying any experience and merge with it. Taking this view is healing for ourselves and our world.

As you enter your meditation or spiritual practice next time, connect with your inner measure of wholeness, and let your clear insight ripple out into your world.

Yoga as Nirodha

Lately I’ve been noticing a change in attitude toward my yoga. Somewhere over the years it moved away from being just a physical exercise and more toward a spiritual practice.

In high school and through my 20s I used yoga mainly as a way to switch gears, usually at the end of a work or school day as I prepared for an evening of different activity. I definitely noticed physical benefits like deeper breathing, longer muscles, and a sense of release of tension and fatigue. That was enough to keep me going.

The mental and spiritual benefits of yoga came sort of as an accident, or as a by-product of simply doing it. I found I could concentrate better and had more energy after doing my yoga. I felt at peace, at one with the world. Whatever worries or stresses I had arrived with seemed at least quieter after a practice.

Somewhere along the line I began to use yoga off the mat. I applied yogic breathing to situations where I needed to be patient, to work through physical pain, and to manage anxiety during stress. I found myself doing asana at the laundrymat, in the bathroom at work, and whenever I could get a spare moment. The feeling of at-one-ness began to seep out into my daily life and expanded my sense of inclusiveness.

But it wasn’t until I started studying Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras that I began to put words to concepts that I had experienced empirically in my practice.

Early in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras he provides a basic definition of yoga:

1.2 yogascittavrttinirodhah

yoga citta vrtti nirodah

Yoga is the process of calming down the mind.

Breaking this down, ‘yoga’ can be seen as ‘union’; ‘citta’ is the field of consciousness, the mental plane; ‘vrrti’ are the fluctuations in the field of consciousness, the monkey mind and incessant chatter we all have to contend with. ‘Nirodha’ is the calming and stilling of the chatter. Therefore yoga leads to the stilling of the mental fluctuations and a calm mind.

Yoga is both a means and an end. It is the practice of learning to stay focused amidst all of life’s sensory input and mental distractions, whether on or off the mat, and the state of calm attention that arises from the practice. In the resulting quiet we experience the presence of our inner light of awareness.

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