Meditation and the Vision of the Perfect….
In what areas of our life are we expecting perfection? Demanding perfection, even? We can all make a list without too much trouble. We want perfect bodies, jobs, kids, partners. We want to change ourselves and change the world. Meditation is one of the tools in our toolbox for getting the job done. But is meditation a tool? Can we grade it, evaluate outcomes, measure the success per effort ratio?
It is part of our culture to expect a linear relationship between cause and effect, effort and reward. But a life is not a series of stairs that you climb, because you want to move up. Maybe life-success, or perfection, can be measured in a different way. Maybe the goals in our lives should be reevaluated before we toss out our tools and look for new ones.
We’ve all had the experience of watching a movie that was supposed to be funny, but it fell very flat — but then we see it again, and it’s hilarious. Or we watch a movie that has been panned by the critics, and we think it is as fine a piece of movie making as ever was. In the first instance, the only change was in ourselves. We were not in the mood for that movie, and then we were. The movie didn’t change. We changed. We were open to it, or not. In the second instance, we formed our own opinions, despite what others thought. These are simple examples, but the lesson is one that can resonate across our experience. Are you open to what you are trying to do? Are you making up your own mind?
Life can be so complicated. Some days the weight of that complexity, of the expectations on us, is paralyzing. And many of the heaviest expectations are ones we place on ourselves. This isn’t a bad thing, if having goals helps us reach for challenges, and reaching for challenges makes us happy. But maybe not all of us are most happy charging ahead into the fray, battling the world for our small piece of the pie. If we are working toward a vision of perfection that is not our own, but one given to us by family, or community, or culture, then that vision of perfection is likely the source of the headache that is brewing behind your eyes.
But trying to find your own definition of perfection, of the happy life you should be living, the one some people call your highest right, can be just another overwhelming job, when you contemplate where you are and how long it will take you to get there. And what if you get there, and you don’t like being a starving artist, or milking goats?
It’s not always just the goats. Maybe you like to eat goat cheese, and you don’t want to milk goats. It’s not the goats. It’s how you feel about your choices, how you judge yourself, how you let yourself find joy and peace in the everyday.
If your idea of a perfect life begins with a thought about what you look like, act like, or do for a living, stop there. Consider a new perfect life as one in which you are happy. You are happy, forgiving, and positive. When faced with challenges, you think of ways forward, rather than stewing over the screwed up mess the world finds itself in, and who is to blame. It’s just you, living inside your own head, and you choose to be happy. The world isn’t changing, the commuter traffic isn’t changing, nor are the bills. You are just deciding to deal with it all in a different way. That’s your idea of a perfect world — one you can deal with and still be happy.
The cool thing about the human brain is it contains all the magic in the universe, and all the universes, and everything in there belongs to us. It’s our ultimate do-it-all tool. Meditation is one way we open up this tool box and explore the contents. Our minds belong to us, just like our bodies belong to us. We can feed them, give them plenty of healthy exercise, and then we can set out on a journey through our own minds. Meditation is just taking a walk into your mind.
Picture a landscape. It may be a landscape you have seen before, or one that’s a fantasy. Now walk into it, one deliberate step at a time. In this place, your thoughts can rest. Concentration without thought, just one foot in front of the other. In this place, your mind can rest. And with your mind at rest, you can be your perfect self.