Passage Meditation

“Happiness does not lie outside us. It can only be found within – a most elusive realm which the modern world, with its overwhelming emphasis on sensory experience, has effectively hidden from our view.” – Eknath Easwaran

I have written before about dealing with stress (Stress Management Tips). Managing money is stressful. More important than just the stress is being able to leave work at the “office” and to allow yourself and your mind downtime. My job and the jobs that many others have consume you and can take over almost every waking second of your life, including your dreams (yes, I have had dreams about stocks).

That is one reason I started observing Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) two years. At sunset on Friday, I stop working, turn off my computer and do not do any work and try not to think or talk about work until Saturday night. This practice has literally been a godsend to me. I am refreshed every week and get to relax and calm my mind. Another benefit is reminding yourself that you are NOT your job.

For those reasons and more I have been interested for awhile in trying meditation. Someone bought me this book and told me it was great. That book is what I’m writing and recommending to you now, “Passage Meditation” by Eknath Easwaran (pronounced Ish wa ran).

Here is why I think the book is great. First, it is really simple and enjoyable to read. There is no dogma or religion that is spread in the book. In fact, it is agnostic. The practices and recommendations made in the book are explicitly recommended to be used with any faith or belief you have. There are easy steps and practical advice. And above all the book makes common sense.

Basically, the book explains the benefits of meditation and why you do it and then recommends two main practices. One is to memorize a mantram to repeat at various moments in your day to calm yourself. It can be anything that is short from “Barcuch Atah Adonai” (Blessed is you oh God) for Jews to “Hail Mary” for Catholics to “Rama Rama” for Hindus. Here i what Eknath says about a mantram:

“A mantram is a powerful spiritual formula which, when repeated silently in the mind, has the capacity to transform consciousness. There is nothing magical about this. It is simply a matter of practice. The mantram is a short, powerful spiritual formula for the highest power we can conceive of – whether we call it God, or the ultimate reality, or the Self within. Whatever name we use, with the mantram we are calling up what is best and deepest in ourselves. The mantram has appeared in every major spiritual tradition, West and East, because it fills a deep, universal need in the human heart.”

The other practice is the meditation on a passage. You basically take a spiritual passage that speaks to you and you memorize it. Then you take a half hour each day, preferably in the morning, and meditate on that passage with your eyes closed. Eknath explains:

“So what is meditation? It is the regular, systematic training of attention to turn inward and dwell continuously on a single focus within consciousness, until, after many years of daily practice, we become so absorbed in the object of our contemplation that while we are meditating, we forget ourselves completely. In that moment, when we are empty of ourselves, we are utterly full of what we are dwelling on. This is the central principle of meditation: we become what we meditate on.” This last sentence that really speaks to me.

And so I highly recommend this book and will be integrating meditation slowly but surely into my daily life. I truly appreciate the first quote that leads off this blog post. Happiness must come from within, it cannot come from a stock quote, a magazine article or even another person.

Finally, this quote makes a lot of sense: “If this body is like the body of a car, the mind is the engine – the most important part of vehicle.” Well, its about time I spend time cleaning and resting my mind and making sure I take care of it and that I focus on what is important in life and what I want my life to be about.

(Here is a link to Eknath Easwaran’s non profit organization: Blue Mountain Center of Meditation)