I find it curious that modern seekers often view meditation as simply a means to increase the health benefits of a calm mind and body, release from stress, and lower blood pressure. These kinds of results may indeed occur, but from a spiritual perspective, they are not the major reason for practicing meditation. In fact, there may be times - during a psychological dark night of the soul - when the exact opposite effects occur, at least for a time.
In a Wilderness Mysticism, the purpose of calming the mind is not primarily for health benefits, but to nurture awe and wonder at the amazing process through which form arises out of formless awareness. In Wilderness Insight Meditation, we use attention to each exhalation or to images of spacious landscapes as a means to access the tranquil inner lake of awareness out of which all thoughts, emotions and perceptions continually emerge, like magical echoes arising out of nowhere. Here, we watch in spellbound amazement at the continual appearance of all earthly phenomena - together with their associated thoughts, emotions and perceptions - out of the seamless expanse of interior silence!
In other words, we focus not so much on ourselves and our own health, but on the beauty and wonder of the world around us. In this way, meditation practice offers us fresh motivation to care for our beautiful planet!
Photo: Paintbrush, St. Louis Lake, Fraser Experimental Forest, CO, August 9, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.