Inspire Your Meditation Practice

by Melissa West on September 15, 2011

with Sally Kempton’s

Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience

I picked up this gem of a book when I was on vacation this summer. I don’t think you can imagine how thrilled I was to see that Sally Kempton, one of my most respected teachers of yoga philosophy, had finally re-worked her earlier, out-of-print book, The Heart of Meditation.

Personally my meditation practice had become and exercise in diligence. I can be pretty driven, so my meditation practice was no different. I would sit there every day because I was a meditator, because I meditated every day. Not exactly the stuff made of inspiration.

Meditation can often be permission for self-deprecation, a time to sit down and basically barrade yourself for not doing it right or long enough or whatever. During meditation many people, myself included, come to know their inner critic. Sally reminds us that “meditation is like any other intimate relationship: it requires patience, commitment, and deep tolerance… and it is best undertaken with love.” When I read those words, something in me shifted. I finally realized that meditation could be a time to lovingly enter into a relationship with myself. Sally even promised that my meditation would leap up to me me when I began attending to it with love.

I love Sally Kempton’s writing because she oozes heart-centered yoga philosophy in an accessible and inspiring way. Take the title alone – Meditation for the Love of it and enjoying your own deepest experience. The title promises the reader that they will love their meditation practice and that it will speak to their own deepest Self. In the words of Sally Kempton, “We meditate to know ourselves.” For me, the practice of yoga has always been about personal self discovery and transformation, so this connection to our True Nature really spoke to me.

Sally Kempton draws you into a beautiful practice with words like lure, going deep, yearning, interested in knowing your Self, inner world reveals itself, and intoxicated with tenderness. In her own words, “Your meditation is an entry into the cave of the heart, the cave of the spirit.” Who wouldn’t want to enter that cave?

Like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), I appreciate this book’s devotional quality. Sally’s idea of meditation involves the play of shakti in our practice. This reverence for and tuning into the divine feminine is a beautiful part of meditation practice. Additionally there are a lot of suggestions around ritual for preparing for your practice, during your practice and coming out of your practice that added a beauty and spiritual quality to my meditation practice that I had been yearning for.

The book is filled with many, many suggestions for practice. By providing more than twenty different exercises, Sally Kempton is helping the reading “choose the right doorway.” Once through the doorway, Sally instructs you on how to move deeper into your practice. I love that Sally has a couple of chapters in the book on dealing with the challenges of your mind. She lovingly helps you shift your identification with the mind as some sort of arch-enemy or something to overcome or transcend.

One thing that Sally talks about with incredible skill and humility through the book is the idea of goals and progress on the path. In a tradition that reveres letting go of outcome and detachment,  I think this is a courageous act. Not only is it courageous but also helpful for meditators. It is incredibly helpful to know what other people have experienced on the path of meditation. It gives us some idea of how our meditation practice is going, yet Sally Kempton somehow still manages to do this without creating attachment!

This book has inspired my practice once again. I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and to sit in this incredibly in-spirited practice of coming to know myself. I hate calling this my meditation bible, but it is the book that I bring to the mat each morning. I have my favourite practices and I’m working through the various practices in the book to see which ones resonate with me most. Through this practice I have had some incredibly beautiful experiences with spirit and I have been able to let go of the judgemental, grin and bear it attitude that was all to prevalent in my practice in the past. Thank you Sally Kempton for helping me to love my meditation and enjoy my own deepest experience. 

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