The Heart of Meditation
- 2012 July-August
We all want small, simple things every day―a good night’s sleep, a parking spot near the door, a satisfying dinner―but what happens when we want to identify or manifest our deeper desires? Sarah McLean, author of Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation, explains how meditation can help us tune into our intuition and amplify our power of attention.
On meditation and connecting with ourselves
Meditation helps us to quiet the internal dialogue from our conditioned mind that takes everybody else’s ideas and calls them our own.
The soul is already clear about who we are and what we want: it’s the mind that gets in the way, the intellect. As we connect with our own essence through meditation, we enliven its intelligence, and our connection to it.
Prayer is talking to God or asking a question, and meditation acts like a giant Q-tip, to clean the ear and help us listen to our soul’s whispering. Always go into meditation without any expectations. To be able to be more questioning than answering is a way of going through life.
On meditation and inner desires
It’s OK to want things. Some people want things like a million dollars. What does that buy you? A house? Take a look at what you think the money will buy, and put your focus on that instead.
Meditation is simply a time in which to plant a seed. Pay attention to the desires, practice, be a good listener, stay in your integrity, and pay attention to the clues along the way, and your desires will manifest.
On the power of attention
It’s the nature of our attention to filter things. This is where we can take our power back. Start paying attention. What programming do you have going on that is keeping you looking for improvements versus what you love about your life? Are you looking for something to be grateful for? When you look in the mirror, are you looking for beauty or for wrinkles? We get to choose where we put our attention, and we can make a better day, a better life, when we really pay attention to what we’re looking for. You can even learn to shift in the middle of a moment.
On developing intuition
It starts with something as simple as a co-worker asking where you want to go eat today, or Mom asking if you can call her later. You might not even think about it, you just know that you should for whatever reason, and you say yes. Instead of doing that, ask yourself the question they’ve just asked you. Do I really want to get together later? Listen to your internal cues and start saying what you mean.
Everyone has intuition; we just have to figure out how it shows up in our lives. You need to figure out how your internal intelligence communicates with you. Honor your own wisdom and honor your “no.” It’s OK to say no when everybody else is saying yes, and it’s OK to say yes if you’ve been saying no out of habit.
Be nice to yourself. That goes for everywhere: inside and outside of meditation.
Self-Inquiry: What Is My Heart’s Desire?
You can do this practice anytime and anywhere, sitting up or lying down. I prefer to do it sitting up and before I go into my meditation period. Remember to do this practice with a beginner’s mind. Here’s how to begin:
❂ Find a comfortable position. Close your eyes and relax your body.
❂ Bring your attention to your heart center; focus your breath on your heart. Let your breathing be soft and normal.
❂ With your focus on your heart, ask yourself, “What do I really want? What is my heart’s desire?”
❂ Wait a few moments and listen. Don’t try to answer the questions by thinking of what you want or by making something up because you think it’s the right thing to want.
❂ Be authentic. Wait, listening in the silence. You may or may not hear an answer right away. The desires will arise in their own time now that you have given yourself permission to want something.
❂ If you already know what you want, then you can gently bring your attention to those desires in your mind and heart. If you don’t know what you want yet, however, simply sit quietly with the question.
❂ Do not get into a story of how, when, who, or where it will manifest. Let go of any aversions, too―those thoughts of what you don’t want. Simply pay attention to what you desire. Detach from the outcome of this process. Do this for a few minutes before opening your eyes slowly.
Excerpted from Soul-Centered, by Sarah McLean (Hay House, 2012). Reprinted with permission.