I have been doing a lot of research into religion and meditation lately, not exactly sure what I have been looking for in the process. I suppose it began with a wonder in terms of the religious significance of meditation – and where my practice of meditation finds its roots. I first began to meditate in what is considered either Hindu or Buddhist meditation practice about forty years ago. My first experience of meditation during my first year of university was in a commune which had a Buddhist orientation. A year later I took a course in Transcendental Meditation along with other university students and university professors. I began to think that though I enjoyed meditation, the practice didn’t fill what I felt was an emptiness, a hollowness within myself. And so, I let the practice of meditation disappear out of my daily life.
I didn’t see my immersion into prayer as a youth as part of the world of meditation though I now accept that prayer can be meditative. It took a trip to Aix-en-Provence in France where I spent a few hours in a sanctuary of a cathedral and followed the footsteps of centuries of priests and monks who walked the outdoor covered walkways in prayer that I made the connection between prayer and meditation. A while later, another visit to France and an evening in a cathedral in Avignon had me recall the altered states of existence I had felt as a child and youth in cathedrals in Ottawa. Simply sitting quietly in the cathedral and being mindful I felt the similarity of the feelings of mindfulness that I was experiencing when meditating. Prayer and meditation are practices which allowed me to connect with something bigger and deeper both within and without my self. I had re-discovered meditation, a meditation with a difference, a meditation that is grounded in depth rather than in being a physical practice.
And that re-discovery was soon followed by a return to meditation in my home. With my last child graduating from high school I returned to being a school principal and life soon overwhelmed me with busyness and mediation once again fell of my radar. Then a few years ago while spending a winter in Mexico at the edge of a quiet Mayan fishing village, I once again found the stillness and that stillness soon was partnered with meditation. This time there was a difference. Meditation was taken out of doors into the sunshine, into nature. With churches becoming places to visit and be photographed, my religious needs are being met in a larger cathedral, the open sky and a curiously more open mind and heart. And this has allowed me, to return to meditation indoors where I can still connect to the spiritual centre within when life asks me to be inside of a building.