The Baha’i teachings suggest meditation as one way we can become acquainted with God and our spiritual nature – and recommend developing a daily meditative practice.
As we grow closer to the divine, other areas of our lives also blossom, and our actions become more purposeful. The positive effects of meditation can show up in our lives in many ways.
Accessing Creative Inspiration
We all rely on creative inspiration in some capacity. Artists, scientists, doctors, bankers, students and caretakers all rely on the ability to think creatively to become the best version of themselves. Creative intellect helps me as I problem-solve in my personal relationships, in my interactions with the community, and in my career.
Meditate profoundly, that the secret of things unseen may be revealed unto you, that you may inhale the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable fragrance, and that you may acknowledge the truth … so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 8.
Through creating art and ideas, I more thoroughly reflect on the mysteries of the world around me. Arts and creative endeavors deepen cyclically: as I become more meditative, I can access more inspiration – and as I create, I more deeply reflect on reality. My actions also begin to demonstrate the qualities I want to see in the world around me, such as appreciation for beauty, unity and peace, in increasingly more powerful ways.
Baha’u’llah also said:
The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 72.
Detaching from What’s Beyond My Control
I obviously can’t avoid negative feelings and experiences forever, but sometimes the challenges life throws my way feel insurmountable. Meditation can provide me a portal out of sadness and distress when I go through hardship. It draws my attention away from myself and focuses it on something much greater than myself. The Baha’i teachings refer to this concept as “the spiritual Kingdom:”
All our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 110.
Taking a break from sitting with my pain allows me to navigate the world with dynamic fluidity. Just because things are difficult doesn’t mean I can’t get through them. Of course, detaching from hard feelings does not mean I dissociate completely from them – it is crucial for one’s well-being to process feelings – but I don’t force myself to ruminate on them. Paired with willpower and action, I can channel meditation to actualize the change I want to see in the world around us.
Tapping into intuition
In meditative moments, my mind becomes clearer and spiritual truths can emerge from the darkness through intuition. This especially helps me when I try to make big decisions. I often get caught up in the confusion of my thoughts, anxiety and doubt cloud my judgment, and I make decisions that I later regret. Making decisions on auto-pilot can make me default to old habits, rather than develop spiritual qualities like generosity, hope, love, and justice.
Through silent meditation I can clear the way for spiritual intuition, which favors these spiritual qualities over fear, greed or judgment. It allows me to have insight into life’s difficult questions, so I can move forward with more confidence and act purposefully.
As the Baha’i teachings say:
… the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time – he cannot both speak and meditate. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 174.
When I allow myself the mental space to meditate, answers come more clearly to me and my actions prove more effective.