Each morning, sitting upon my meditation cushion, I’m greeted by a sign that reads: Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God. The quest for joy and happiness is natural; we have just looked in all the wrong places.
My book The Mindful Addict was written with the intention of showing that the practice of a spiritual path will result in bringing happiness to our lives. This happiness is born within, not from any outer condition.
Our practice is challenged each day, as we hear about or experience incidents that invade our lives; which seem to throw insults at any attempt at happiness. It has even been said that, life is hard, and then you die. Somewhat true, yet I refuse to embrace this as my mantra. Our practice is to return to the simplicity of the present moment. We find shelter from the intrusion of malignant thoughts. We learn to accept things peacefully, allowing all situations, good or bad to be as a catalyst for our change, and we learn to respond to praise or rejection with an attitude of gratitude. This is equanimity.
The practice of meditation coupled with service is not going to assure a gold star next to our name. Challenges will continue to confront us, but returning to the practice again and again, with willingness to start over again and again will have a softening effect on our daily lives.
Why all the talk about the 11th step, (meditation)? Why do I write about it? Speak about it, and practice it. Because I’m convinced there is nowhere else to find refuge, the practice transforms my world into a hermitage, and my daily routine becomes a retreat.
I read essays and books on this subject from such eloquent writers, mostly meditation teachers, often with letters following their names. The conclusion is easy to come to–there has to be something to this meditation thing.
I have no formal education, but I have practiced for more than forty years. I can’t debate or have an intellectual conversation on the complex structure of World Religions. I can’t explain the different levels of consciousness that occur during the enlightenment journey–but the simplicity of showing up and sitting on the cushion is open to all of us, no degree necessary.
My life, like all human lives, has been full of disappointments, and it seems impossible at times. I experience deep pain and loss; I like to call that living life to the fullest. In the midst of profound change, I return to the sanctuary of the wonderful moment and eventually touch great joy within. I owe this to my practice; happiness is a state of grace I experience most of the time, with or without what I think I need.
Enlightenment is not something you might experience in some lifetime to come, it is attainable in the next breath; as you sit and then serve. The only ritual required is to pay attention.