Meditation and/or spiritual experiences can be very powerful, but they are not "one and done."
Life have a way of “springing” or “flowing” back to a state of need, no matter how skillfully or potently we fulfill and enrich ourselves. For example, after a good night’s sleep, it’s only a matter of time before we are tired again. After a healthy, satiating meal, hunger is just a few hours around the corner. A pleasurable experience one day likely won’t set us in a good mood for the rest of the week. We can’t exercise one day a month and relax the rest of the time and expect to become stronger and healthier. When we finish stretching our hamstrings, they begin to shorten again. Powerful, insightful experiences do not guarantee us clarity and wisdom for the rest of our lives.
Animals follow their instincts to maintain and modify their need cycles, and we do too. However, it seems that humans have developed conscious thought, and the problematic part is that we have technology to amplify our peculiar ways of life. We need to implement something to correct/limit ways of living and thinking that disturb mutually supportive conditions for life. We need a diversity of perspectives, frames of mind, and experiences of consciousness to be able to recognize when, where, and how we need change. In this era, we especially need something that doesn't chop everything up into analytical pieces--something holistic that can support our and the earth's flourishing. I am not suggesting that a holistic view or mystical vision is ultimately superior to "ordinary" consciousness. It is conceivable that in another era or another kind of universe or planet, the holistic view is intact while there is need for analysis and reasoning. Compassionate power and insight come from experiences of many perspectives.
We can instate practices that invoke nature’s self-correcting (or self-healing) forces, which very much help us to manage the ebbs and flows of our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. This means consciously taking steps to get out of our own way enough to let the patterns of nature guide us back to equilibrium.
We can instate practices that invoke nature’s self-correcting (or self-healing) forces, which very much help us to manage the ebbs and flows of our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves.
The most important thing to remember is repetition. No matter how wonderful and deep your practices is, and no matter how many years you have spent cultivating equanimity, compassion, and so on, there will always be forces at play that pull you the other way. That’s the “springing back.” This—the reformation of the ego—is probably one of nature’s ways to ensure survival, but now that we have technologies that support our lives in ways like never before and very complex social structures that have special behavioral requirements, it makes sense to establish a different kind of relationship with our impulses.
It makes sense to establish a different kind of relationship with our impulses.
This is where art, meditation, sincere conversation, reading, movement, creative expression, reflection, writing, music, and many other avenues to the soul come in. When we approach these practices from the heart, they have the power to correct for the forces that, if unbalanced, pull us out of connection, out of compassion, and out of touch with the wisdom and joy of the foundational patterns of life. Perhaps this fits in to Alduous Huxley’s “Quest for Grace.”
If these practices are approached from a place of striving for status or power that you think will place you above or in control of nature or others, their balancing functions will not be properly activated, and you will remain frustrated. That does not mean you will miss all the insights brought on by these practices, but something will indeed be missing. With meditation, you can begin to perceive the difference between these approaches. Noticing that there is a difference is step one. The next steps will become clearer as you proceed.
Aligning with the "way" or the "pattern that connects" means contact--access to that which is bigger than "you." When we commit to abide in that space, we enjoy a perspective that supports a fuller and clearer picture of what is at play in the universe.