Ask and you shall receive
Having meditation actually start to influence your experience of spirituality only comes with some period of regular practice. You may have occasional glimpses if an irregular meditator, but your meditation has to take on something of the nature of a discipline before real spiritual benefits can start to take permanent effect.
This should come as no surprise. After all, people who practice daily and lengthy meditation sessions – think Buddhist monks in their monasteries, or Christian monks or nuns in their own contemplative institutions – spend many hours daily engaged in meditation or prayer, which is essentially the same thing.
At this level, it is a shutting out of extraneous distraction so that one may be receptive to whatever experience, knowledge or insight may arise. A certain amount of purification is often part of this shutting out process. Some of this may be symbolic, some of it may be sensory (such as the use of incense or chant), and some of it is simply employing the meditation techniques that quieten the mind and make it more receptive.
And this is essentially what meditation at this level is about. It is no longer simply about relaxing the body, or quietening the chatter of the mind and easing physical, psychological and nervous stress.
It is about being in a state that enables you to be receptive to insights that come in unexpected ways. Insights that might be far more profound, creative, or possibly contrary to anything you might normally expect to experience. Be prepared for meditation and contemplation at this level to change your whole way of thinking or acting.
Is this possible if practising at home?
Will you start experiencing bliss or having spiritual experiences? Will you meet God coming the other way during your meditation?
Who knows what you might be able to experience, if you practise the necessary discipline?
At this level it is no longer a matter of 20 minutes, twice a day. There will probably be multiple meditation sessions through the day, and for more extended periods. Of course, this depends on the time you have available, and the time you are prepared to devote, which are not necessarily the same thing. Most of us do not have the luxury.
Spiritual or Religious Retreats
Many people highly engaged in spiritual development take regular ‘holidays’ from ordinary life in the form of retreats, perhaps for a week or two. Here they can immerse themselves in the whole contemplative experience, and the result can often be a profound sense of peace and connection that they take away, and which can persist for weeks, even months, until they feel the urge to retreat again.
For others, this will not be enough, and there are a few who decide to give up the everyday existence, and live a permanent life of contemplation in an ashram or a monastery.
A state of ‘Being’
All of this is way beyond what most of us want – to feel better, more at peace and more connected while going about our daily lives as normal. Can you do this with regular meditation practice?
The answer is yes.
What you will experience with regular, disciplined meditation is a greater sense of just ‘being’ – being in the moment, and just taking pleasure and peace from fairly mundane activities. This is as opposed to the usual state most of us continually find ourselves in – a constant state of ‘doing’. And finding that the doing is never done.
You are likelier to be happier, more at peace with everyone and everything around you, and consequently less likely to be periodically floored by the hassles and setbacks and irritations that plague the lives of most of us.
And if you meet God on one of your meditative journeys, give thanks, and make arrangements to meet again.