The spiritual journey is extremely simple and extremely challenging for us today. It is simple and challenging for the same reason—all we need do is focus on our breath and a mantra (phrase) without interruption. When we do that, the divine presence within the core of our being will show itself and direct us on our journey with purpose and meaning.
This action is so simple that even a two- or a three-year old can do it—for a few seconds. Us older folks can do this maybe for a few minutes. Students of meditation are often able to stay focused in this way for maybe hours. It takes a seasoned, advanced yogi, like Siddhartha Gotama (49 days under the Bodhi Tree) or Jesus of Nazareth (40 days in the Desert of Palestine), to do this for days or months at a time.
Why is it so challenging for most human beings, especially those living in the 21st Century?
Because we have dissipated our self-control or directed it in a way that moves us into the outside world rather than inwardly, Yoga says. The spiritual journey is the “path” that we travel to the Spirit or that we travel with the Spirit, depending on your understanding of the Spirit. If the Spirit (God) is separate from ourselves and in some sacred place like a church or in heaven, then the spiritual journey is the path “to” that Source of Life. If the Spirit, again referring to God, is within ourselves, then the spiritual journey is the path “with” that Source of Life.
Yoga believes that the Spirit is within our core being, called the atman. Meditation is the path to that Spirit and with that Spirit.
Meditation is a very simple task—sitting in a relaxed, seated pose while focusing on the sound and feel of the breath coming into both nostrils. However, the external distractions of the world and the internal concerns from the unconscious mind make that simple task quite challenging. Our culture has allowed distractions from the outside world, like social media, the noise of the television or other attractions and the internal chatter of the unconscious world of worry, fear, plans, and expectations to weaken our contact with our discerning mind, called the buddhi.
The buddhi is that part of our mind that is in direct contact with our core, divine self. It is often synonymous with our conscience. Every time we ignore the buddhi’s promptings we loosen our contact with our Spirit within. We begin to make decisions based on outside sources and information. Our journey becomes not a spiritual journey but an external movement through the maze of daily 21st century opinions, beliefs, and activities.
Meditation practice is essential for the spiritual journey, the journey to/with the Divine Source of Life. Yet, it takes people in our 21st century culture so much energy to stay connected with the inward world. There are so many distractions and often when we commit ourselves to a daily time of prayer or meditation, the unconscious mind, the chitta, gets triggered to do other things. This pull again brings us into the outside world, a world directed by often other forces than the Divine Force.
Meditation—feeling the breath in our nostrils and rejoicing in that calming and relaxing sensation while focused on a mantra—is the glorious opportunity for each of us to strengthen our connection with the Spirit (God) within.
If we are interested in the spiritual journey, if we do want to become one with the Divine and fulfill our purpose in this life, if we want to travel consciously with the Spirit (God), all we have to do is spend daily time moving inward.
May you know the joy of that spiritual, inner journey to/with the Spirit.