Woman alone on swing - Being alone and still

Excerpted from Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach, in which author Diana Lang aims to guide and support all readers, regardless of their spiritual orientation, as they incorporate meditation into their lives. 

Being by yourself

alone = all one.

Most of us don’t know how to be alone. We’re afraid of the dark outside when we’re little, and we’re afraid of the dark inside ourselves when we grow up. We learn to fill up all the dark spaces with TV and newspapers and drugs and busyness and anything else we can think of, anything not to be alone. But if you examine the word alone, you’ll see that it comes from the compound word all-one. There’s a big difference between the words alone and lonely.

When we meditate, we enter into ourselves. Sooner or later, we discover something very precious. We touch upon the diamond of our heart. Sometimes there’s mud all over it, but don’t let that fool you—it’s still a diamond. The mud is our shame, our pain, our beliefs of unworthiness and separateness. These are all common misconceptions produced by the ego. They shroud our light.

When we meditate, we discover that we are not alone. We find our deep connection to the whole of life, and we come to know that we are all one. We are loved. We are good. We are forgiven.

Every time you choose to be present, you become more aware of the most expansive, highest part of you. This ever-reaching ability is what makes humanity special. We reach. We aspire.

Look at how magnificent we are! We reach the stars. We fly like angels. Who but we would try to fly to the moon? We are beautiful dreamers, seekers, visionaries, and inventors, and we change the world.

And best of all, we have the great capacity to wonder. That’s what I love about us most. We wonder! We say, What if? Now what? Why? What’s next? We’re always growing and endlessly evolving.

Meditation is filled with wonder. It’s constantly spiraling us inward and upward, lifting us to higher and higher realms of understanding, creativity and love. Meditation teaches us how to be present to the wonder of the moment. We sit, quiet and alone, but then we discover we were never alone at all. We’re all taking this journey together—all of us, finding our way home.

Stillness

In a single moment, everything can change and anything can be.

Sometimes you will feel the stillness. This is an experience that’s both difficult to express and very personal. Everyone feels this differently, and this quality constantly changes, like constellations arcing across the canopy of the night sky. Here is the essence of meditation. It is a supreme stillness, full and complete and whole. You will recognize it when it happens. It doesn’t happen every time you meditate, but you will know it when it does.

One of the ways you will recognize this stillness is that it becomes a permanent part of your cellular memory bank and a state of being that you have access to. You can refer back to it. It becomes something you remember like a life experience, or a relationship, or an adventure you had a long time ago. You will know. Because it becomes a part of who you are.

So, it’s alright that this deep stillness happens only once in a while; it’s designed that way. You need time to digest it. You need time to integrate the profound learning and understanding that come with it. When a profound stillness occurs, you’re out of the loop of time as we know it. You return to your infinite self, and in a single moment—inside that stillness—everything can change and anything can be.

Diana Lang is the author of Opening to Meditation and the owner and director of the LifeWorks Center for Growth in Los Angeles, where she lives. She is also active in a variety of non-profit international efforts to teach meditation and yoga. Visit her online at www.dianalang.com.

Excerpted from the book Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach ©2015 by Diana Lang. Printed with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com.

image: Lonely woman watching sunset via Shutterstock