Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience
A New Book by Sally Kempton
Everyone talks about the health benefits of meditation, but 40-year meditation master and teacher, Sally Kempton, believes the real gift of meditation is all about falling in love with yourself. In her book, Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience(Sounds True, January 2011), Kempton asserts that though it can clear the mind and keep stress at bay, at its best meditation leads us to self-love .
"An intimate and loving relationship with self," Kempton calls the promise and true goal of meditation. By taking the daily plunge into our inner world, we learn to go beyond defining ourselves by our history, our looks, opinions and emotions. Instead, we begin to identify with the subtler parts of ourselves, the field of spaciousness beyond our thoughts.
Eventually we connect to heart energy, to love and then to ourselves as all-loving Consciousness. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, sees Kempton's approach as providing a path for personal transformation "molecule by molecule into an experience of pure love." (Gilbert penned the book's foreword.) [LINK TO Book Excerpt]
Just like all relationships, however, the one we forge with ourself through meditation can be baffling and at times, frustrating. As we go deeper into our practice, says Kempton, we encounter beautiful aspects of ourselves, but also qualities that might seem like roadblocks to experiencing our essence. "Move through them with love," she counsels, "and the loose ends of our personality will come together with our Awareness to make us whole."
How do you go deep enough to get to self-love? Kempton shares a few of her many tips:
- The real key to going deep in meditation is wanting to go deep. The more you crave the taste of the inner world, the easier it is to meditate, the deeper you'll go. Your desire doesn't have to be huge at first. Even a slight spark of interest is enough, because the inner world is actually yearning to open up to you.
- Stop worrying about technique. Drop the preconceived notions of a successful meditation. Instead, treat it as an exploration. Your meditation is an entry into the cave of the spirit.
- Be creative, play. For example, when you sit to meditate, you might ask, "What will happen if I breathe with the feeling that I'm being breathed by the universe?" Give it a try and note what happens.
- Pay persistent attention to the energy that presents itself as you meditate. This kind of attention or "Presence" is soft. It's a relaxed, yet intentional willingness to be fully present with yourself. Treat with tenderness whatever arises.
- If your relationship with the inner world becomes troublesome, boring, or more intimate than you bargained for, don't give up This relationship, like others, requires patience; it changes over time. Undertaken with love, the best is yet to come.
Return to the Book Club for a book excerpt, podcasts and more resources on this book and author.
Read Sally Kempton's weekly Patheos column, Meditation for Life.
About the Author
Sally Kempton is an acknowledged master teacher of meditation, subtle energy and Tantric wisdom who has been practicing and teaching since the early 1970s. A former swami in one of the Saraswati orders of India, Kempton is a teachers' teacher whose students now include leading teachers of yoga and meditation around the world. She teaches at the Kripalu Yoga Center, Esalen and other conference centers; leads retreats and workshops internationally; and writes the popular "Wisdom" column for Yoga Journal. She also writes a regular column for Patheos.com called Meditation for Life. For more information, www.sallykempton.com
Praise for Meditation for the Love of It
"This is classic wisdom of the East, cast in a very personal and accessible form. It is authoritative and inspiring and will make you want to meditate for the highest reasons and in the most effective ways."
—Andrew Weil, MD, author of Spontaneous Healing and Meditation for Optimum Health