Why I Need Science to Teach Me Meditation

I envision my bookshelves back in my house at the beach. They lined the room, filling it with books that included literature from Chaucer to Virginia Woolf alongside lesser novels of every description, a great slew of them being puzzle-solving mysteries. One section was given over entirely to what I called then my curiosities. Some would call it seeking or new age or higher consciousness or motivational. But I was not ready to go there; I was only ready to admit that I was curious.

NASA-Ring of Stellar Fire-w

Ring of Stellar Fire This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows where the action is taking place in galaxy NGC 1291. The outer ring, colored red, is filled with new stars that are igniting and heating up dust that glows with infrared light.

On these shelves were books that did not conform to western science, at least to my understanding of science, which was based on – by then – my own outdated information and on general public knowledge of how the earth spins amidst the forces of the universe.  Here’s where I kept my Autobiography of a Yogi, my Eckhart Tolle, Waye Dyer, Riane Eisler, Ken Keyes, Shirley MacLaine. I sought out writers who showed me a different way of seeing the world.

I dipped into many of them, but always I climbed back out of the pool, dried off, and got back to the realities of life. The books then sat, closed, on the shelves. The things I read about seemed so often like magic, which, of course, we all know is a conjurer’s bag of tricks. I’d read about yogis doing incredible levitations, and then I’d very soon afterwards come across a magician’s explanation of levitation tricks. I’d read about ESP and see how easily critics debunked experiments and ridiculed those wasting their time searching after something so patently based on trickery. The feats became in my mind akin to training a horse with tiny hand signals, so it might appear to be counting.

Where did I get this need for scientific proof of the inexplicable?

I harken back to the 1970s. I was befuddled at the time by people who flew to India to sit on dirt floors and learn – what? – from the masters.  I could not figure out what it was that they learned, no matter how often they explained and how closely I listened. Their talk about higher consciousness, about connecting with the oneness of the universe – what was that? I could not get it, could not absorb the idea of god, in the first place, and a god that was everywhere – well, that was unfathomable. If there was a god, wasn’t he/she sitting off somewhere keeping the universe spinning? Even if he didn’t look like the laughable vision of an old man in a big chair, wasn’t western religion saying there was an entity of some sort? Somewhere?  Science had already explained that the answer to that question was no; there was no one out there keeping watch; the wizard behind the curtain had been revealed, and the revelation was that there was no wizard. At least, that is how I understood it.

Science explained the atoms and the subatomic particles and the basic materials that made up the universe. So how could these eastern philosophies expect me to grasp a concept of oneness? Two marbles were two marbles, made of hard glass, not two energy systems interacting, and certainly not one marble. And two people? Or two thousand being one? How could that be? Well, my mind said, it couldn’t be. Not possible.

Airy Fairy was the term I most often heard.

And what red-blooded American wanted to be called airy fairy? Or gullible? Not I. I come from solid middle class stock, protestant and a life based on provable facts.  So, bottom line: I could never open my mind to the ancient teachings of meditation and higher consciousness if they could not prove to me that their concepts worked, and how, and why. I found that I could meditate, but only to the extent that it relaxed me and took my focus off the stresses of my day. I could go no further. No deeper. Uh-uh.

And yet I kept reading. I reached out to books on how to develop intuition, get in touch with my inner voice and reach my deeper consciousness. I tried left-handed writing and automatic writing. I would complete the exercises and look around the room at the hard surfaces of the desk, the chairs, the walls of the house around me. These were realities, my mind would tell me. The rest? That was imagination, the stuff ghost stories are made of.

I needed popular science to come full circle to the metaphysical. I needed to hear about the advances of quantum physics that was happening in academic arenas, and I needed those findings to be shared out with the rest of us — to take us out of the old, material-based view of the world and into one that begins to explain some of the ancient teachings, even as it begins to mesh with many of those airy fairy concepts I was too skeptical to embrace. I, being who I am, had to wait for middle America’s mainstream culture to embrace Einstein’s theory of relativity.  Dimensions needed to be explained by mathematics. And then, once science had begun to report that the material world was, indeed, not material at all but energy, or even just space, or fields of possibilities – or then, just information sharing –  then I needed translators who could connect these bizarre new theories to the world as I know it.

I’ve been seeking these authors out over the last year and a half, finding one, then moving to another, devouring their ideas, then when they mention another connector of the dots, seeking those authors out on youtube, books, radio, and in conferences.

And that is why I am here at my keyboard today, synthesizing what I am learning, me, a woman on a singular journey but knowing that I am amongst thousands on this same journey.  Most probably, millions.