Practising in Strange Times


In the strange and challenging times of the covid-19 pandemic, Kevin Statham turns to Paramananda’s work to review his meditation practice

I thought I would invest a little more time in my meditation practice during these strange times. I have a reasonable regular practice anyway but what would be the best thing to do now? Meditate for longer or twice a day? Try a more exotic meditation or spend more time just sitting? Fortunately I have been rereading Paramananda’s The Myth of Meditation, first read a while ago after a glowing recommendation.

Paramananda and the Myth of Meditation

Paramananda’s premise is that most of us try to meditate with our “spirit” – our thinking mind, logical and linear. light and clarity. But he argues real progress is made when we connect with our “soul” – imagination, myth, unconscious, the body. He also offers three stages to meditation: grounding, turning towards, and seeing through.

Paramananda leads us through a series of meditations that build on each other, starting right at the fundamental connecting with our body and the ground – opening to our soul. I have to confess that during my first reading I skipped the led meditations being, as always, in far too much of a rush to get to the end – a working ground for me – definitely! However this time I decided to do things a little more thoroughly and do the meditations in order. And this has been somewhat of a revelation.

Learning from Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee developed a school of martial arts called Jute Keen Do. The way they trained in the dojo was to practice one move, maybe a type of punch, over and over again until it was totally learnt by their body and minds and became natural. When I started the first meditations in the book I remembered this and decided to spend a lot more time on, for example, connecting with the earth or relaxing the stomach instead of hastily moving on to the next paragraph. So for the past couple of weeks I have avoided my natural temptation to rush on to the meaty bits and spend more and more time getting intimate with the basics. Can I slow down and look deeper and deeper into a single aspect of my awareness?

I realise now that there are no basics in meditation and the benefits of superficially skipping over the really important aspects of turning towards ourselves are short lived. It’s strange that when one realises something, it tends to be what the masters have been telling us all along.

For me there is no quick fix in meditation. I now realise I need to spend time practising the basics over and over until they are fully experienced and then I may realise that there are no basics at all, just a deeper and deeper opening to the soul.

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