The Inward Journey
Jul 31, 2020 09:00AM
By Vivek Raghuram
Modern life has afforded us many comforts, but at the cost of burdening our attention. Technology has freed our hands, but it has also confined our minds. There is an almost constant barrage of information that we are subject to these days via our phones and computers. Our social media feeds are now an endless scroll, our streaming platforms have unending content, and algorithms are designed to keep us engaged with endless variations of personal preferences. The combination of an endless novelty of information and an easy availability of personalized content has been supremely effective in captivating our attention.
While such a behavior keeps us entertained, it also creates a schism between our attention and the self. We devote so much of our free time to this endeavor that it prevents us from introspecting, looking within our own selves to know who we really are and what is that we seek? Time that was available to be spent in contemplation or self-expressive creative activity is now spent in getting distracted by an endless stream of information which to great extent doesn’t contribute in making our lives better, more joyful and meaningful. Since we don’t take the time to delve within and really know ourselves, we don’t get the opportunity to be at peace with ourselves as we never understand the barriers that exist within our minds to lasting joy. The result is that we are in confusion about ourselves and the meaning of our existence.
When we don’t know ourselves well enough, our desires and actions can be at cross-purposes with who we truly are or want to be. Naturally, this is bound to create stress and a whole host of other mental and emotional problems. The pharmaceutical industry has responded with a quick fix by selling drugs that try superficially address the problems while creating new side effects. However, drugs can only address the symptoms and not the root cause. At the root of our stress is a lack of knowledge of our true selves that lie beyond the limiting ideas created in the mind.
Since long, meditation has been the route taken by people across various cultures to end the suffering which is the creation of the restless mind. A popular saying goes, “An hour of meditation is better than a lifetime of supplication.” Meditation allows the mind to reach within and go past the various limiting ideas about the self to its reality, thereby bringing peace and understanding. The reality of the self is that it is a simple being that is full of peace and love. Each one of us is a storehouse of peace; we just don’t see it, and worse, we don’t allow ourselves to see it when we are caught in the vicious cycle of looking for quick or superficial fixes which only augments the restlessness of mind instead of transcending it and allowing the solutions to emerge spontaneously (Sahaja) from the depths of our very self.
Today, meditation itself has become a recreational activity, and perhaps a style statement. Meditation apps abound in the virtual world, sadly becoming another wave in the deluge of information that we find ourselves in. Instead of being an inward journey involving an honest and open examination of oneself, pop-meditation has turned into an attempt at bringing superficial positivity. This is just another means to distract our attention from our true inner being. Meditation must be a process that allows our attention to meet the self by making the lake of mind still and transparent allowing one to experience the content within. It is certainly not adding more content to the mental noise that already exists.
In an age where the kite of our attention is tossed about, the inward journey of meditation is the string that prevents it from flying away. It allows us to be free of mountains of unnecessary stress that we face due to lack of awareness of the illusionary and selflimiting ideas we have about ourselves. It allows us to step away from the constant distraction of information and enter a meaningful relationship with ourselves, one that is based on understanding and leads to a meaningful life. It gives us the opportunity to truly change the only part of the world we can change – ourselves. The need to go within was never so great as it is today in these testing times so let’s take the first step and begin our journey inwards. It begins with the experience of thought-free awareness.
Vivek Raghuram is currently a doctoral student at Purdue University who has been practicing Sahaja Yoga meditation since 2008. Try it online: SahajaOnline.com. Learn more about Sahaja Yoga at IndianaMeditation.org.