Unity minister Michael Maday tells the story of a Zen master who said to his large monastery one day that he had a number of tasks to complete. Said the monk, “I have so much to do, I’ll have to meditate an extra half-hour today.”
The moral of the story is that the busier we are, the more we need to “center” in our true nature. When we are centered, we are at our most effective. We gravitate to this center through meditation, which stills the mind, enlivens the body, and opens the heart.
“When we’re scattered or overwhelmed, we tend not to do anything very well,” said Maday, a faculty member at Unity Institute® and Seminary. “But, when we anchor ourselves deeper, we are more in command of our core. We discover the most important things we have to do in order to accomplish our goals and express our gifts more effectively, despite the demands of the day.”
According to Maday, time is subjective. “I can look at my watch, and know objective time, but this is really the least important aspect of time,” he explained. “If I’m visiting an old friend, it doesn’t feel like much time has elapsed when, in fact, half of the day can go by. But, if I’m sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for my test results, five minutes can seem like an hour. Time itself expands or contracts depending on our intentions or consciousness.”
At first, it may be hard for some people to carve an extra minute out of the day for meditation. But if the right intention is set, a minute can be all you need to go into a meditative state.
“The deepest part of meditation does not actually take place in time. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore called this the ‘Silence.’ That’s what a shift in consciousness really is. To have the experience of the Silence is why we pray and meditate,” he said. “It is in the Silence that we know the truth of who we are. When we take the time to listen, we directly know our divinity, and then can express that divinity in our living time and space. In this way, miracles can happen. Almost anything is possible.”
Maday advises beginning meditators to start the practice by reading about it, which may likely address any concerns about time. Taking a prayer or meditation class also provides a great orientation.
Two of Maday’s favorite resources are Teach Us to Pray by Charles and Cora Fillmore, and How to Pray Without Talking to God by Linda Martella-Whitsett. Said Maday, “Both books are excellent introductions to understanding our true nature, the Silence, and affirmative prayer.”
Start small and let the desire to extend your time grow with your intention. Find a quiet space, ideally the same time and place every day—your desk at work, a closet, or in the car before driving. Ultimately, you may find you can create a quiet place in your home where you can practice.
Once you are established in a meditation practice of five to 15 minutes, Maday recommends expanding the time to 20 minutes up to an hour a day.
“Remember that time is subjective, and it will expand to meet the intention. You have to be patient with yourself. If all you have is a minute, make it effective,” he said. “Meditation works just like a muscle. The more repetition, the stronger it gets.”
Like the monk, the more time we have to silence the busyness of the day, the better.
“Through prayer and meditation, we realize who we really are, divine beings having a human experience. It’s no longer just wishful thinking. When you have that direct experience with the divine, you just know it—as well as you know it’s cold outside,” Maday said. “You discover how unlimited you can be. Illnesses can be healed. Poverty can be overcome. All the things we want and yearn for become available. Take the time to give yourself this gift.”