Spiritual practices need to be effortless

Spiritual practices need to be effortless

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

Imagine that we have walked miles carrying a heavy luggage and upon reaching our destination, we are able to put down that heavy load – how would that feel? What would you do?

Imagine that we have been in a small boat which was tossed around by the rough seas and then we manage to find an island and lie down on the soft sandy beach – how would that feel? What would you do?

Imagine that we have been exposed to irritating sounds all day and then suddenly we step into silence – how would that feel? What would you do?

In all these cases, we would feel a great sense of relief. We would just relax and enjoy our new situation.

That is how our spiritual practices should be viewed. When we meditate or chant a mantra, it is an opportunity to rest our mind. Being tossed around by our habitual thoughts and external stimuli all day can be akin to sitting in that small boat I described above. When we sit and meditate, we are stepping away from our habitual thoughts and allowing our mind to slow down. This is truly relaxing and refreshing. If we pay attention to our mind and notice the silence between our thoughts, even if it is for a few second, we will feel a great sense of relief. We will discover a new path to inner-peace, relaxation and bliss; and it is free and effortless. We just need to allow ourselves to enjoy this silence.

Unfortunately, many of us see our spiritual practices as ‘work’ instead of periods of relaxation. We are told that we need to put in a lot of effort in order to progress. So we strive hard and chase after the spiritual experiences we read about in the books. We want to have beautiful visions and develop spiritual powers. We want to be able to levitate and look into the future. After a few years of striving, we become discouraged and start asking why we are not making progress. We ask why all our efforts are not showing any results. Then we think, maybe we should try out other techniques and begin the whole cycle all over again. THIS WILL NOT WORK.

Ajahn Brahm often tells the story that the lay disciples who comes for spiritual retreats at his centre often go into deep states of meditation; far exceeding some of the monks who has been there for many years. Why is this so? This is because those lay disciples go for these retreats with the intention to relax and recharge. Because they were not chasing after any spiritual experiences, those experiences came to them effortlessly.

So the next time we practice, we just need to remind ourselves to relax and enjoy!

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