THE BLOG
11/20/2013 12:41 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Meditation Is a Place of Refuge

Many people think meditation is just a practical tool to relax the busy mind. Others practice meditation to relieve physical pains or lessen the pressures of a difficult boss, demanding kids, or listening to the news. Meditation is all of this but it is also much more.

Meditation opens a place inside of refuge. Most people don't have a safe place in their lives where they can simply be with no expectations. They don't know of a place of unconditional and unlimited love. Whether work, home, family, friends, special teacher or church there always seems to be some demand, some need to be other than who we are. The joy of a sunrise or sunset, laying in the arms of a lover, or favorite vacation spot can all be moments of temporary refuge. But they are not the same as finding the refuge inside ourselves welcoming us to perfect stillness, peace, welcoming us home.

Refuge is a safe place where we can completely let go, a place where we are sheltered. Refuge is an experience where every part of us feels embraced. Nothing is expected. There is unlimited acceptance. We can just be. Refuge is a place where we are not alone. The part of us that is lonely, separate and apart is gently held. The cries and shouts of I and me spread forever inward and outward in a presence of love that is completely open and receiving.

Many meditation groups advertise no belief in God is necessary, come as you are. Join us, sit, breathe, and unplug from your daily world. But in truth, meditation leads to something much more then a rest from our daily struggles. Meditation offers much more than some relief from I and me. It leads to something more then positive feelings of forgiveness, compassion, and gratitude. Yes, it is nice to have a break from our anger, impatience, and neediness. But meditation is much more than a band aid or magic pill to relieve symptoms of modern living.

Meditation takes us underneath the stream of me. Below our strong ego is an even stronger presence. Meditation discovered by seekers in all the great traditions brings us to the heart of the mind. And this heart is a universal place of refuge.

It begins the moment we sit in meditation and feel the presence under the noise of our thoughts. As we let go, surrender, and receive the stream of our awareness, the thoughts recede. We experience the body of our heart. This is the body of our awareness soft, gentle, clear, peaceful, and loving. As we go deeper inside, this awareness grows more present. Our thoughts shrink in the back ground. What is important is to receive our heart essence. With or without thoughts drifting through our awareness,our place of refuge is always present.

With practice, our place of refuge grows clearer and stronger within us. The difference between sensing this place of peace and experiencing it is the difference between seeing a photo of a rose garden and visiting the garden and enjoying its beauty and presence. When we meditate instead of just watching the trail of our thoughts, we can receive, actually absorb, the space underneath and in-between the clouds of thought. We are soaking in the presence of our awareness, the garden of roses. Here is something very real, vibrant, and whole. Yes, the secret to losing the busyness of mind is to breathe,receive, feeling the body of awareness in our heart. There is an expansiveness inside, a room without end. Meditation takes us from the stress of I and me to this inner vastness. This is our place of refuge.

Once we discover this pure realm of being, we begin to see this pure realm in others, in life. As our refuge grows in our awareness it becomes more of our identity. Life difficulties and worldly challenges grow smaller. Our place of refuge is too true for fear to enter. We have found another reality, an inner plane that is permanent, beyond judgment, desire, or worry. Our perspective of everyday life is different. Our place of refuge introduces us to the something which can only be called heart empowerment.

Some people may think enjoying a place of refuge is to hide from the world. Actually daily life and the busyness of our mind is a way of hiding from our true awareness. Our heart unplugged from daily life and its challenges gives us a fresh view of who we really are, a view of our potential. It is good to know our place of refuge in good times so when life's pressures are surging, we know there is a well worn trail inside to our inner shelter and safe harbor. We know our place of refuge.

Everyone puts their faith in something whether it be science, our 401K, a special teacher, some theory or belief. Finding our place of refuge inside of us changes all of this. There is a perfect shelter, something we can count on in all circumstances. Meditation has taken us to a place that is separate from the entanglement of our personal story. We have discovered the part of us that is more than the ups and downs, hopes and disappointments of our personality. We have come home. Here is golden treasure, our heart essence. Meditation everyday is our vacation, our beach, and mountain top. Life is so much clearer, more giving, true, and joyful. We see our potential to live this everyday, in every moment, every relationship. Here is our personal sanctuary, the nervous system of a vast universe, connecting the planets and stars inside our heart and the heart in everyone and everything.

We invite you to monastic silence for people of all traditions or no tradition at Silent Stay Home and Hermitage near Napa, California and Assisi, Italy.