As a meditation professional and passionate advocate of the practice, I am forever asking myself and students: Who Am I, Who Am I, Who Am I? This central question to most meditation lineages is one that is meant to evoke curiosity til the end of life and time. What happens, however whether from guilt or altruism, we begin to question less Who Am I but rather Am I Selfish? Is all this inward focus, too self-centered? Indeed, meditation is a very personal, private and sacred individual practice. However, deeply imprinted in our DNA, it is our inherent behavior to socialize, extend and reach outwardly toward our fellow humankind.
How do you know how long and how much are right for you? This is very personal to your history and your constitution. Per nurture, we are all born into homes and family ovens where we may or may not have flown the coop fully baked. Per nature, we are all born somewhere on the intro-ambi-extrovert spectrum. In walks meditation, fully customizable and tailored to our exact needs meeting ourselves where we are. Where one is plotted on the x,y axis will determine how much time and focus in meditation will be required to complete one as a whole-health thriving individual. Once normalized, nature will determine what one's being is calling for with respect to the necessary amount of time and depth spent in meditation.
My own story places me roughly in the middle - depending upon the situation – of the intro/ambi/extrovert nature spectrum. And about 80% fully baked on the nurture dial. Though my family was broken at one point early in my developmental years, love and a healthy home helped to heal the fractures. Stitching the remaining sutures have been my life's work and luckily also my purpose as I endeavor to help others. Raised Catholic, the central tenet of our family lessons revolved around service to others. And being the eldest of 5 left little time and space for quietude and reflection. So, you can see where there might be room for inner conflict and confusion. I continued to question, doubt, learn, doubt, live, analyze, wonder and yes, doubt some more. Then one day, like a seedling sprouting growth, the little bud pushed up through the soil for all the world to behold. Radiant and beautiful in my own nature, this glorious gift was at last free to blossom and grow. Only just recently do I feel I finally surfaced. The lines on the grid intersected where survive converted to thrive and I was baked 110%.
Before we are wholly healthy, it is not uncommon to feel ashamed for tending to self-care, analyzing and questioning life. But then one day, from distraught to transformed the locust of learning, curiosity and the quest to better understand oneself and ultimately one another is forever converted. Once in this state, healed of childhood wounds you may attain pure equanimity harmonizing your inner and outer worlds. You are free. Free to be you without apology. Free to turn outward and extend yourself in genuine service toward others. This is not to say that service prior to wholly healed is premature, no, it is exactly such life lessons, practices and habits that make the clarion moment of inner/outer union so clear. Now, not so much out of habit but rather out of pure inspiration and love for others are we able to summon the energy to help, care for, connect and engage with our whole heart and being.
In summary, lost in meditation we need not fear reclusion or becoming too selfish if we choose to adopt a lifestyle around a routine practice. Until we are fully healed the directive may feel selfish. But with an eye on moving from survive to thrive, our quest is altruism at its purest. We were designed to use and offer our gifts and talents. And without actualizing one's worth, no one else will benefit. Even once healed and especially then, our life's work is to optimize our being so we may outwardly share, give, love, deliver, care and shine. Always be meditating!