We have always heard advice that we should guard ourselves against excessive and over-zealous meditation practice, which would not only bring about mental related problems but would also impact adversely on our ability to lead a normal life and our relationship with those people closed to us.
By excessive, I take it to mean that one puts in out of the ordinary effort to allocate a place and time and sit, maybe cross-legged, in a quiet room for a prolonged period, or even forsake all our worldly possessions/responsibility to retreat into seclusion to meditate.
The degree of excessiveness is relative to individuals – what is excessive to one person may not be the same for another. Rather, it has to refer to the point at which the meditation practice begins to adversely affect the person’s state of mind or causing him to encounter problems in his livelihood and his relationship with those around him.
I also believe it is all in our mind. If we meditate trying to crave for quick-fixed spiritual or psychic prowess, the ability to communicate with spirits or evoke immense psychic powers, we would run into trouble. We would become impatient with our progress, causing us feelings of disappointment and frustrations, wrecking havoc not only within ourselves but in our emotional relationship with those around us.
The other peril lies in our vulnerability to hallucinations, such as supposed visitations by angels or guides, some of which might be real but some ( much ) of it might be sheer imaginations. And there is also the danger that some negative elements might even masquerade as saintly or holy entities to lure the meditators into doing their bidding or allowing them to take over their body. The Buddhist teachings advocate that one should “Kill the Buddha when he sees the Buddha, and Kill the Demons when he sees the Demon” in meditation, meaning one should avoid placing attachments to whatever he encounters in meditative practice. In your meditation, just like in your astral dream state, whenever you come across any entity – be it Buddha, Bodhisattvas, Angels or Devas – just mentally make a note of these encounters, let them pass and try not to be emotionally affected. Over time, if these saintly, holy or evolved entities that we supposedly see in our meditation are genuine, I am sure they would continue to help us in whatever way they could, with or without manifesting their presence, instead of abandoning us because we fail to acknowledge them in our meditative state.
Does that mean, we do not meditate? Not exactly, I would say. I have always advocated infusing meditative practice as a way of life or part of our life habit. Like, we could be in a meditative state when we walk, stand, sit and sleep but that does not mean that we are doing excessive meditation. What I have tried to put across is that the meditative practice should be a natural process, and ” unenforced.” The point I am trying to stress is to use the tools of meditation, which could be easily integrated into our daily life habits, to enable us to have a relaxed but focused mind so that our ability to concentrate on one thing at a time and our sense of awareness becomes heighten. With these casual practices, we are able to go about doing our daily chores, concentrating on what we could do best, and free from all other emotional attachments and distractions and in the process reap the benefits of meditation. And, it is always prudent to remind ourselves that we are not yearning for quick results but maintaining a balanced and mentally healthy practice that benefits our body, mind, and spirits.
By Anthony Leong