The Power Of Sitting Now (On Your Ass Meditating). ~ Ramesh Bjonnes

Via Ramesh Bjonnes
on Oct 8, 2010
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Spiritual practice is transformative!

Like so many other spiritual seekers, I love the legendary little book by the famous, contemporary German-Canadian spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.

But I love my daily meditation practice even more than the beautiful and wise words in Tolle’s book.

What’s missing in Tolle’s book, for me, is a personal technique, a personal method as simple and transformative as those meditation techniques invented in India thousands of years ago, and which each day enables so many of us to feel the Power of Now, from our rear ends all the way up our spiritually inclined, kundalini climbing spines.

What Echart Tolle has given us are wise words on pages of bestselling paper, and, for me, these words are wise reminders for living life between the meditation sittings.  But they do not take me to that deep space of Now in the same way my meditation practice does.

My sitting practice gives me each day a direct pathway into my own heart and mind. Into that space where heart and mind may act in one harmonious flow. Like a silent symphony. And I would not exchange that experience, that practice, for any book, not even Eckhart Tolle’s.

The Power of Now we achieve while sitting in meditation is often incredibly blissful. For me, definitely more blissful than music, art, sex—and definitely longer lasting. But not always.

Because spiritual work—such as sitting on our ass repeating a mantra tied to the sonic tune of our silent breath and concentrating on a chakra tied to the sonic tune of our even more transcendent soul—is not always spiritually orgasmic, nor even spiritually insightful.

As a very articulate Zen monk perceptively wrote in an article in Buddhadharma magazine: Spiritual practice is “transformative, and this kind of transformation can get messy. The Sanskrit term for this is clusterf*ck.”

What this wise-ass Zen monk means is that meditation—not the listening-to-relaxing-music-kind, but the kind that’s designed for spiritual transformation—stirs things up. It often creates the perfect little teacup of a shitstorm in your head and heart, where all the stuff you’ve been repressing your whole life (and perhaps from many other lives) may suddenly come floating up to the surface of your dark, introverted soul.

Transformative meditation is therefore not for psychological sissies. It takes courage to face and contemplate all the creepy demons suddenly let loose from the inside out. All those three- and ten-headed devils the Buddha faced under the Bodhi tree before his final enlightenment; we must face the same ones as well.

In modern lingo those devils are simply all the bad news you see on your ego-screen while meditating. Bad news about your self-esteem, your diet, your marriage, your relationship, your job, your family, your life in general. All those contemporary devils we all know too well.

And that’s one important reason why I think so many people find it hard to sit in meditation, day in and day out. And why so many leave the practice, a few months or years, before it really gets to be transformative and truly and totally fulfilling.

You have certainly heard stories about how meditation makes you calmer, more centered. But did anybody tell you this peaceful experience sometimes is just the calm before the perfect psychological shitstorm?

And when the shit suddenly hits the fan, you may not be prepared to face it. And, since spiritual meditation practice comes without a psychology degree, or a therapist, you may decide to discontinue the practice, finally seek a therapist, pick up yet another copy of a self-help book, or simply continue your less psychologically confrontational hatha yoga practice with renewed inspiration and vigor. Then say to yourself “This is really all the yoga I need.”

But if you want more? Then you must face your lousy karma, or more philosophically correct, your lousy samskaras, head on. These physical and psychological imprints are stored in your pain body, the armor we, according to Eckhart Tolle, surrounds ourselves with, the armor of the body, the armor of the ego, the armor of the false you.

In yogic and Sanskrit terminology, the messy psychological stuff our armor is built of is our samskaras, psychological imprints from past actions and experiences. Unresolved and unfinished psychological business. Our hush-hush family traumas, repressed angers, untold fears, and secret desires.

In other words, all the repressed, unconscious material Freud said we invented religion in order to escape.

According to yoga, Freud had it almost right. Meditation practice was, in part, invented, not to escape something but to transform something, to transform the sludge of our repressed samskaras, and through sitting practice to dissolve this syrupy mess from our emotionally stuck hearts and souls.

Hence, I think of meditation mantras as microbe eating organisms that dissolve the oily sludge from the inner, watery ocean of our being.

But not so fast. Before the sludge particles are dissolved for good, the meditation practice stirs it all up and makes it all visible to ourselves, our friends, our spouses, our co-workers. More visible than ever before. This unconscious sludge is now expressed with renewed energy in the form of anger, irritability, impatience, lust, jealousy, greed. Or whatever other dysfunctional malady you suffer from.

Hence, the apt term “the enlightened neurotic.”

Spiritual practice and spiritual growth does not always equal psychological growth. Therefore it’s a good idea to combine cushion practice with mat practice. It’s also a good idea to combine meditation with psychological work, with ethical work (yama and niyama), with service and activism, with devotional practice (kirtan). Simply sitting on our ass is not enough. Our whole being must be engaged and transformed.

To paraphrase the famous sage and muckracker Charles Dickens: meditation can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times, it can be the moment of wisdom, and it can be the moment of madness. But one thing is for certain, if practiced properly and diligently, it can be one of the most honest, truthful, important, longest (and blissful) Now Moments of your life. Again and again.

As yoga teacher and psychotherapist Michael Stone says: “This takes us to one of the simplest aspects of practice; being honest. Once we train the mind to see the body as the body, to be with the breath without distraction, and to stay present even during difficult mental and physical states, a natural outcome is being honest about what we see.”

Often we don’t see who we really are because we are so wrapped up in the image of ourselves colored by our mental imprints, our samskaras.

Meditation helps us to gradually gain the insight that being in the Now is a condition of freedom beyond contradictions and limitations, beyond our samskaras.

This state of inner union or wholeness that comes with prolonged meditation practice, what many also call bliss, is a state where there is no need to resolve the contradictions of our life, because all opposites have already been solved.

We are then in that state where everything begins and everything ends, in wholeness, in union, in bliss, in love. We are truly in the Power of Now.


About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes is the co-founder of the Prama Institute, a holistic retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center specializing in detox by incorporating juice fasting, ayurveda, meditation and yoga to cleanse, relax and rejuvenate. Bjonnes is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He lived in India and Nepal in the 1980s learning directly from the traditional teachers of yoga and Tantra. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India). He lives and practices in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.


8 Responses to “The Power Of Sitting Now (On Your Ass Meditating). ~ Ramesh Bjonnes”

  1. Katie says:

    When I started reading, I rolled my eyes, thinking it was just going to be a trashing of Tolle's lack of physical directions for how to deal with the frailties of being human. The very direct style of writing seemed to emphasize that feeling. But the more I read, the more I listened, recognizing that he was explaining a deep and difficult truth. Facing our inner demons is a crazy, crazy-making, way too heavy to handle kind of experience. But without it, we never really know who we are. Or who we can be.

  2. Ramesh says:

    Very well said, Katie. I love Tolle, by the way–his is an important voice… For most of us, being human is sometimes hard work, and being a spiritual human is even harder work. The story of Milarepa, the murderer-magician who becomes Tibet's most beloved saint, is a great example of the struggles some go through and what is possible to overcome once we are committed to the spiritual path. There is a section for non-new-agey spirituality here on EJ, and this article of mine is representative of that: the raw spirit of transformation, bliss and blisters all. But most importantly, the incredible, daily rewards along the way that make up for all the hard work!!

  3. Ramesh says:

    Jiiva, thank you so much for your long and insightful comments. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you have written as it totally reflects my own experience. I practice tantric meditation with all the asthanga elements of pranayama, pratyhara (sense withdrawal) dharana (concentration) and dhyana (deep flow), and it involves both concentration and mindfulness. The first takes you to the depth of your being, the second lets you become the witness, and thus to escape being the doer and becoming entangled in the shitstorm. However, sometimes a deep blissful meditation may release the sludge from within, and you will then have to deal with those released samskaras in real life, in which the being a witness comes into play again, so as not to get attached to outcomes if the release is felt as positive or not repulsed if it is negative.
    So, thanks, Jiiva, for your thoughtful comments.

  4. Ramesh says:

    thank you so much. Zen and Tantra have so much in common, as they are both transformative (or revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary) practices, and I am glad my subconscious imagery is in line with your own experience!
    Even the great masters share their terrifying experiences, but also the ease of being, the sheer joy of insight, which comes to us all and are signs of deeper and deeper transformations taking place. Thus it's about a total embrace of experience, and nothing is good or bad, it's all just great!

  5. Ramesh says:

    John Alberta Ramesh I like UR way of expression,raw,organic,like salad !!!!!!!!! Peace & Light !!!!!!!!!!. ·
    Katie Yeoman Don't know about like salad, but definitely raw and organic!·
    Jennifer Flor Fantastic article. I could really relate…thanks for sharing.·

  6. fivefootwo says:

    Oy…..A few questions: In Ashtanga, is the teacher that instructs you in asana practice also the one who teaches you dhyana? And if so, when are you deemed ready? Can a practice of self patched daharana hold you over until that happens? Thanks again for a great post.

  7. fivefootwo says:

    In other words, don't get stuck in the preliminaries? I hope I got you. Thanks Ramesh.

  8. Ramesh says:

    Yes, it's all part of the practice… even with the perfect teaching tools, it all comes down to practice…. simple or advanced, practice, practice in the here and now!