Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What Motivates You to Meditate?

We don’t talk much in our culture about motivation — unless it’s deficient or missing and we need to amp it up and “get motivated.” In your own life, you may be the kind of person who does what comes naturally or does it because it’s fun — or exciting or educational or merely interesting. Or perhaps you’re the responsible sort who fills her life with obligations and spends her time meeting them.
Whatever your motivational style, you may find, on closer investigation, that the motivation or attitude you bring to an activity has a dramatic impact on your experience of the activity. Take sex, for example. If you do it out of lust or boredom or fear, your sexual pleasure will be permeated by the flavor of the feeling that motivated you. But if you have sex as a heartfelt expression of love for your partner, you may move in the same way, touch the same places, use the same techniques — but you’ll have an exponentially different experience. Well, meditation is like sex — what you bring to it is what you get! In fact, the meditative traditions suggest that your motivation determines the outcome of your practice as much as the technique you use or the time you spend. Just as clients in Jungian therapy proverbially have Jungian dreams and Freudian clients have Freudian dreams, Christian meditators tend to experience God or Christ, Buddhist meditators see emptiness — and those who seek healing or peace of mind or peak performance tend to get what they came for.
Spiritual traditions often rank attitudes and motivations as higher or lower, and they generally agree that the motivation to help others before helping oneself is the highest. But you have to begin where you are — and being

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