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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Jack Kornfield: Meditation for Beginners


Meditation trains us to be present in each moment with awareness, with a greater sense of openness of heart, and with clearer seeing. It can help us learn how to remain more open, and it can help us learn how to love with our whole hearts — and to be unafraid to express that love. Even in our difficulties, meditation can show the possibility of being a little less attached to the inevitable ups and downs in our lives, less afraid of the changes in both pleasures and pains. Meditation helps us to learn to love well, by discovering we can open ourselves to all the aspects of our minds, to whatever is difficult as well as to whatever is easy.

Meditative awareness reduces tension and heals the body. Meditation quiets the mind and gently opens the heart. It steadies the spirit. It helps us learn to live more fully in the reality of the present, to see more clearly the people we live with and the world we live in. As we train in mindfulness, we become more present — so that when we go for a walk in the park, we are not walking among the trees while we are thinking about the bills that we have to pay, our problems at work, or something that happened to us yesterday. We can learn to be where we are. Because, basically, being aware in the present moment is the only game in town, and if we miss this moment it will be gone forever.

In this way, meditation can help us fulfill our deepest desires, to discover inner freedom and happiness and to come to a sense of oneness with life. Through it, we come to understand more completely who we are and how to live wisely in this strange life that we have been born into. The practice helps us to discover what the whole process of life and death is about. And all that is needed is a systematic practice of mindfulness and awareness to foster a sense of inner stillness, so that we can see and learn from everything within and around us.

While it is simple, meditation is not always an easy thing to accomplish. It requires great courage. Carlos Castaneda writes about how the Yaqui Indian Shaman Don Juan taught him that only a spiritual warrior can withstand the path of knowledge. Only a spiritual warrior never complains or regrets anything. “A spiritual warrior’s life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. The basic difference between an ordinary person and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary person takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”

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