What Oprah Knows About the Power of Meditation
It's easy to mistake that voice for you until you've been "still" enough to know otherwise.
Meditation is about getting still enough to know the difference between the voice and you—as Eckhart Tolle so beautifully articulates on the first page of his book Stillness Speaks, which has a permanent place on my nightstand. "Stillness is your essential nature," Eckhart writes. He says it's "the inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world. You are that awareness, disguised as a person."
It's the book I most recommend for anyone interested in understanding the power of meditation, silence, consciousness, being.
Recently I had a conversation with a friend, Fred, who'd injured himself water-skiing and had to resort to a scooter and crutches to get around. Fred was lamenting his six-week, doctor-prescribed immobility.
I said, "Enjoy the time off from doing. Just be with yourself."
Fred said, "That's what I'm afraid of. How do you just be with yourself?"
It took me a minute to realize that my friend had spent his whole life doing, running, always staying busy, filling up every waking space. Silence, and real contemplation not grounded in worrying, was a foreign concept to him.
"When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself," Eckhart writes. "When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world."
It's a sad and confusing predicament to be lost in the world—I know, because I've experienced time and again what that disconnectedness feels like. You start believing what the world has to say about you, whether it's the world in your head or the world outside. That outside world is constantly trying to convince you you're not enough. But you don't have to take the bait. Meditation, in whatever form you choose, helps you resist.
What I know for sure, and have had to learn through much trial and error: The voice that truly matters is the silent voice of awareness, consciousness, aliveness.
If, after reading this month's cover story on meditation, you still feel that you really can't make the time to try it yourself, my advice is to start small. When you're in the shower or tub, simply be with the water. Appreciate the fragrance of the soap. The other day, I had a moment of transcendence just fully taking in the scent of my shower gel. The pleasure of the warm water and the privilege of cleanliness filled me to the point of tears.
I wake up to the sound of birds now (what I've taken to calling real twitter). Before getting out of bed, I pause for a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the sound. And even in New York City, waking to the grinding of garbage trucks, I note and appreciate that the city's coming alive, that another day has dawned and, choice by choice, we get to live it.
So, although I'm a big proponent of formal meditation—for the discipline, joy, and calm it brings—I'm moving into an even greater phase of being fully present all the time.
It's a heightened state of being that lets whatever you're doing be your best life, from moment to astonishing moment.
The outside world is constantly trying to convince you you're not enough. But you don't have to take the bait. Meditation helps you resist.