This is a guest post written by Carol Studenka, a long-term meditator and a student of the Teacher Certification Program with the McLean Meditation Institute
Meditation can change the world. There I’ve said it. Sounds crazy, maybe. But I believe meditation can change the world.
I know I saw it this weekend at the Soul Radiance Retreat. Those unexplainable “aha” moments when all your senses tingle. When you and everyone else understand completely the other. When we see each other in ourselves and we know what separates us is meaningless.
It gives me hope and makes me a believer that in extension we can change the world. Perhaps even ten minutes a day of meditation may be the ticket. If what I see happening with 50 people in a room can be taken into the larger world, why not do it?
At the three-day retreat most people sit in chairs, few are scattered around the room on floor cushions. One woman shiny in front, Sarah McLean, leads the meditation and reminds us to pay attention to each breath, She rings a bell to begin and we do, each closed-eyed and focusing on the sensation of each breath in and out. The sounds of the room fade into the background, even the revving of a motorcycle outside doesn’t seem to matter. We are all breathing together. Sarah’s gentle voice reminds us to focus on each breath, then a silent mantra, and then a word – freedom, and we do, until the bell sounds again and the meditation is over.
What’s changed? For most of us deep relaxation is the norm. I feel well rested. For a few first time meditators they sat through some agitation brought on by slowing down – too new to their systems. Each experiences a deeper relationship to an inner place inside oneself – one not easily described. It’s that part of each of us that has been there since birth, and that may go on after death, some call it our essence, others, the soul or the spirit. Whatever the word, we all have a deeper sense of it.
This is where it begins – that change in the world I talked about earlier. It’s meditation that opens the door to the part of self that is overlooked and forgotten. Love thy neighbor as thyself…it’s the self we are supposed to love and cherish always. How many of us have time or energy to do this in this hectic world we live in?
What I experienced in that retreat in Sedona gives me hope that we can and could find this place more often. Meditation creates an avenue of awareness unveiling our true heart, and seeing each other as a true part of the community of humanity. People shared their stories. Some dramatic, others mundane, but as each of us listened from that center unearthed by meditating, we knew we only had to change a details or two for every one of those stories to be our own.
As I listen to those stories told, I hear my own heart speaking. I silently love them, telling them to love themselves, forgive themselves, and believe in their own value. I remember that I need to do the same. As I see these transformations take place before my eyes, I truly believe each individual in this world has the capacity to feel this way too.
It’s like what we all feel looking into a baby’s eyes. We know all possibilities are there in that moment. And that everything good and loving about humanity is embodied right there.
The simple truth is that we have always known what will change the world. And that is love. You could say meditation is love. Loving yourself so you can love others, and therefore love the world. I hope everyone will take time every day to love one’s self through meditation. I love Sarah’s retreats because they give me hope that so many people are beginning to see the same possibilities that I do through their own practices of meditation.