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Why do I meditate?

Why do I meditate?

I don’t meditate to improve my mental acuity. I don’t meditate to slow down the effects of aging. I don’t meditate to lower my blood pressure, reduce my stress, or improve my frame of mind. I don’t meditate to be a better Christian or a nicer human being.

 

Sure, all of these can be byproducts of my meditation practice. But that’s all they are, byproducts, and to say that they’re why I meditate is to totally miss the point, like saying that I wear glasses because I like the way the frame looks on my face. It may be true that I like how I look in my cute little orange frames. But I wear glasses because I am blind without them, unable to function fully in the world.

 

I meditate because I am, in a sense, blind without it. Without the surrender inherent to my practice, I lose my deepest vision: insight. I lose the ability to see myself and the world with the compassion, forgiveness and humility of God.

 

Why do I meditate?

I do not meditate to see God, to feel God, to hear God. I do not meditate to have insights and mystical experiences. My practice is ultimately not about how I feel or what I experience when I sit in place for those two 20-minute sessions each day. The true test of my practice is my behavior the other 23 hours and 20 minutes of the day.

 

A practice is just that, a practice. By definition, a practice gets me ready to do something else. One practice scales on the piano so she can play a concerto beautifully. Another practices French so that he can converse easily. I practice centering prayer so that when life is coming apart at the seams, I remember how to stand steady.

 

Why do I meditate?

One more metaphor. Meditation practice turns me into a sponge. The true nature of a sponge is that it picks up water and lets water go. It does not hold onto water for its own sake. It does not own or create the water. It is simply filled and releases that with which it’s been filled.

 

If I am lucky, the grace of God—Love—fills me to the leaking point.

 

The only goal I can truly name for my meditation practice is this: I want to be a leaking mess, a saturated sponge, dripping streams of living water in a dry and dusty world.


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