Can meditation really make me a better person?
We asked WITHIN teacher Devon Pipars how meditation helps you cultivate compassion, and why you'd want to do that in the first place. Here's what she told us.
Q: What is it about cultivating compassion that makes me a better person?
A: We're only able to commit atrocities when we believe we are fundamentally separate, different and right. Through the practice of meditation, it becomes clear that we are none of these things. None of us is actually independent; we're all interconnected. Beneath the surface, none of us is different. And none of us is inherently more right than anyone else - how could we be, if we're all essentially the same?
To put it simply, each snowflake may form differently, but in essence they’re all water. The same goes for human beings.
And each night when we sleep and give up our sense of individual self, the Being-ness which remains is the same. When we can recognize that, we have a lot more compassion for all the beings we encounter - and we're much less inclined to treat other people badly.
Q: How does meditation help me recognize that?
A: Meditation is an investigation into the nature of consciousness. When you sit in meditation, letting go of thoughts and opening your awareness beyond what you usually notice, you get curious about just what it means to be alive - what's this being all about? You begin to get glimpses of pure existence, consciousness, and bliss.
Upon investigation, we discover that we are in fact not separate from one another or from anything else that is.
We discover that our experience of ourselves - that sense of difference, of personality - arises from the space of consciousness and, therefore, the nature of consciousness is also the true nature of every conscious thing. So, we are all fundamentally one and the same.
Q: How does seeing ourselves as all the same - as all one - help me be a better person?
Every perceived difference among us is acquired, learned, and perpetuated by the ego-mind - that level of consciousness that we're used to calling "me". And when you stop to look at it, over time - as you do in meditation - you notice that those differences that seemed so concrete are actually ever-changing: no one person is exactly the same on the surface each time you encounter them, and you're not the same, either.
As we practice meditation, we practice seeing through the illusion of these surface differences - we begin to realize that these surface distinctions can be considered untrue.
Q: What's the connection between seeing that those differences don't exist, and feeling compassion?
When we truly know that we are One, and that at the core of every being there is a simple wish for life, love, and freedom, then compassion is effortless. Because compassion is not about understanding or agreeing, but about recognizing oneself in all. So, through the self-knowledge and self-care of meditation, we are also acknowledging and honoring the true nature of others.
Devon teaches our afternoon & evening classes on Mondays & Tuesdays. She has a passion for helping students deepen their practice, whether you're just starting out or have years of experience. Join her for a class this week, or get a taste of her guidance virtually through WITHIN's channel on the Aura Health app.