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Natural Awakenings Ann Arbor Michigan

Relinquishing the Reward

Feb 01, 2018 12:00AM

by Brian Clark

It is useful to accentuate the practical, simple and humble side of meditation, for it seems that spiritual discourse is about as full as it needs to be of lofty speech and symbolic obfuscation. The way of meditation is not to indulge in fantastical or conceptual thinking it is in fact not to believe in anything unless it is self-verified by our own experience. To harbor any ideas of what meditation should or should not be, any hopes or expectations of what it should bring, even exerting effort is from a certain perspective at odds with allowing meditation its necessary operational emptiness.

Meditation is essentially paradoxical, in that when we surrender the will to meditate—when we surrender the meditator—meditation happens. Meditation is essentially ironic, in that whatever benefits we think meditation will bring, whatever we think we will gain, however we think we will better ourselves or our position in the world, the less likely it will come to pass; or at the least if it comes to pass, it will cease to matter. And yet the actual rewards of meditation are vastly, unspeakably greater. The disconnect is that it is the ego which desires an outcome, while it is the spirit which reaps the rewards. Spirit, or pure awareness, is intrinsically whole, desiring nothing at all.

Just let go, that is all. The thoughts, beliefs, desires, shoulds, should-nots, all of it; just let it drop away and breath fully in the spaciousness of that absence. This is the way of meditation; to lay the discriminating mind at the feet of indiscriminate awareness and participate in the fullness of life as it’s already being lived. Pema Chodron has said, “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.”


Brian Clark is a resident staff member at Song of the Morning Yoga Retreat, in Vanderbilt, Michigan. He is the lead coordinator for the retreat center’s annual YogaFest, a four-day festival that takes place every summer, drawing more than 500 yogis from all traditions. For more information, visit

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