Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Purpose of Spiritual Practice

I recently came back from a weekend fitness conference where I had my first official experience in the practice of yoga meditation. Being the open minded skeptic I am, I went into the experience open to new possibilities with my stubborn malarkey detector on high gear constantly brining me back to reality. I found myself constantly struggling between the idea that this practice was just fluffy thinking, and the idea that this practice can actually allow you to live with a heightened sense of well-being.

After completing a surprisingly deep meditation I was convinced that this was real, only to find myself becoming the skeptic a few minutes after I left the workshop. I turned to a person who was in the workshop and asked, "I seem to really feel the effects of the energy in meditation, but I realize I'm probably just deluding myself into feeling something thats not really there..."  the person responded to me with a piece of insight that has stuck with me ever since: "Isn't that the point of religion?"

Ever since that workshop I have realized we can live with both spiritual practice and skepticism. Meditating on a certain type of energy, repeating mantras, praying the rosary, and singing hymns all have a certain healing power that is often overlooked: the power of the mind. The theory behind these practices may not be scientifically valid, but that is not the point. The point is that these practices are powerful tools that allow one to achieve alternate states of mind conducive to living well.

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