To rest is not only to relax but also to energize ourselves—a paradoxical combination of qualities essential for the alchemy of meditation.
In contrast to sitting for meditation, lying down to rest or meditate brings a different atmosphere which can be disconcerting at first.
Experienced sitters often complain at first that they don’t find the same clarity when lying down as when sitting. However, this accustomed clarity of sitting often turns out to be the dead end of “me controlling my experience.” One can be an expert at mind control and leave the heart sadly untransformed. Once we “sitters” dare to lie down for meditation, we often ask ourselves, “Why did I wait so long to dive in when there is so much to explore and so much uncontrived flowering of the heart?” As the heart opens, a different realm of clarity also unfolds.
Our usual fears about lying down to meditate are:
(1) “What if I fall asleep?” and (2) “What if I’m wasting my time, not really doing anything?”
Experience shows that, yes, it is very likely that we will sometimes fall asleep and perhaps even snore! In spite of our conditioning to the contrary, sleeping is not a sin, and snoring is actually just one more sound of nature. In the meditation hall, we can welcome sleep as well as waking and the many, often fertile, states of mind between sleep and waking. If one knows one just needs a nap, then feel free to do it in bed rather than the hall.
Our accelerated lifestyles leave us disconnected even from the ability to feel how tired we are, so we often need to go through a few days of feeling more tired the more we rest. We need to “rest through” our accumulated exhaustion to start to uncover our deep life’s eyes.
Another way of moving
You may remember sometimes waking up from a sleep and—before plugging into your persona, your list of things to do, and your limited sense of who you are—feeling for a moment a breezy, caring ease. The flavor of such moments gives us the taste of genuine meditation much more so than do our usual attempts to control or train the mind.
We desperately need to discover a different kind of wakefulness, clarity, and creative action—a way of being moved from within by our connection with life and with our deepest wisdom. We need to find a way of giving up our tense and uninspired “should’s.” We need to feel permission to be pulled into loving creativity for “no reason.”
Then we can celebrate the marriage of these complementary factors of ease and flow, letting go and being inspired, restfulness and wholeness of energy. Our loving life is that celebration.