"I sit at the window of my apartment with my coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other," she explained. "Then I just look out at the world going by, and my mind don't function. I don't think happy thoughts and I don't think sad thoughts. I don't think any thoughts--it's the best part of my day."
Now, many years later, I recognize that my mother was far closer to real meditation than I was. In her own way she had mastered her intellect--something I am still trying to do.
It is said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is listening. You cannot listen if you are talking. You cannot access a divine frequency if you are flooding the psychic airwaves with mental chatter. If chatter worked for you, you would not need to meditate. But you do.
At a time when I felt troubled about a relationship, I attended a lecture by a Buddhist monk. He made a statement that shook my world and has helped me many times over. He said, "Since all of your troubles exist only in your mind, the only place you can solve them is in your mind. A Course in Miracles teaches that although we think we have many problems, we have only one: We believe we are separate from the Source that created us. When we reunite with that Source, suddenly everything else we thought was such a problem evaporates.
The best way I know to make troubles evaporate is meditation. In meditation we shift frequencies until the meaningless ranting of the fearful self fades to nothingness, and we sit in the presence of love, where we were all the time, but did not know it because we were tuned to an inferior program.
Yet simply sitting for twenty minutes or hours with eyes closed is not meditation. What you are doing inside makes all the difference. If you sit and think for the whole time, you are not meditating. How do you know if your meditation worked? By the amount of peace you feel when you arise. Master metaphysician Joel Goldsmith recommends that you meditate until the meditation takes over. When you get to the point where you feel so good that you would rather not arise, you have arrived at the place meditation was meant to take you to.
If the Jewish Mother Meditation is valid--and it is--any activity that takes you beyond your intellect and connects you with your spirit is a good meditation. If you write, paint, dance, play music, or engage in sports, you know there is a "zone" you enter where the small sense of self disappears and Something Greater moves through you. That sense is far closer to the truth of who you are than the one who is trying to succeed. You cannot try to succeed and succeed at the same time. As Yoda said, "Try not. Only do."
The best doing proceeds not from a sense of doingness, but from beingness. You cannot legislate how beingness looks; it can show up through any form. I had severe judgments about my mother smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, but the irony was that she was at peace with those activities, while my judgments were keeping me from the peace I was trying to teach her to attain. So the first step to real meditation is to drop judgments. You have no idea how someone else should live; indeed you have enough questions about how you should live. So let God be God in whatever form God chooses, and give God permission to be God in you, as well.
One of the reasons we love to be around children, pets, and spirited elders is that they are delightfully free of tyrannical intellect. They are not at the mercy of belief systems that tell us we should be other than they are. They are not trying to think their way through life; they are having too much fun to have to figure it out. That's why Ben Williams noted, "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." Imagine that life is a big puppy trying to lick your face; the only reason you don't enjoy it more is that your mind is elsewhere. To get your mind realigned, invite it to think in harmony with Spirit, which is always affirmative and has a greater investment in celebration than complaint.
It's been over 30 years since my mother taught me the Jewish Mother Meditation. She has gone to heaven and I am still learning to deal with a restless mind that tells me all kinds of things that simply aren't true. When it's my turn to meet mom in the afterlife, I will thank her for her spiritual insights. And if I find her sitting with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I shall not be at all surprised.
ALAN COHEN is the author of inspirational books, including the best-selling The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Why Your Life Sucks and What You can do About It. For info or to receive Alan's daily inspirational quote and monthly newsletter, visit www.alancohen.com, email email@example.com, or 1-800-568-3079.