Michelle Wood, 2

Interview with Michelle Wood

MP:

What a beautiful story. Again, I have many questions, so I will try to navigate my way through them. When you went outside to meditate that summer day, were you already familiar with meditation? What made you approach it the way you did? What happened as you were sitting for the first time? What was going on for you?

Michelle:

When I went outside that day, yes, I was already familiar with meditation as a consciousness-expanding practice. I had not been meditating with the goal of the empty mind, rather with the idea of expanded awareness and clairvoyance. Empty Mind and Oneness practices came a bit later. I would have to say that intuition made me approach it the way I did. I had already learned that you can't seek an answer, just open yourself and allow it to come to you.

Seeking is too much of a distraction, and frequently gets in the way of attaining the goal which is an answer to your question or problem. Seeking an answer through meditation requires the expectation of an answer and at the same time surrender to the outcome. In other words, seeking guidance through meditation isn't a way to find out what you think you what you want to know, it's there to tell you what you Need to know. There is that requirement that you just let go and drift down the stream.

Empty mind practices are similar in that if you are thinking of an empty mind, you are still thinking! I wish I could say that my very early experiences, say the first few months, with meditation were expansive, ground breaking, and left me wildly excited and breathless. The fact is, they were quite uneventful, and sometimes frustrating. The least little sound would distract me and break my concentration. Thoughts would intrude in a seemingly never-ending stream. Sometimes, sheer doggedness kept me at it.

My desire for expanded consciousness was that strong, but working alone without a guide or teacher was a challenge, and it probably took longer to get to a level of proper meditation, expanded consciousness or empty mind. Meditation is something that you can learn on your own, you have everything you need to do it, but here in the West, people have a lot of cultural education and conditioning to overcome; we are taught from an early age to be going and doing all the time, making goals and working on plans, getting ahead and accomplishing things, and it's a real challenge for many of us to find that quiet space within. I think that is where a teacher or guide is extremely beneficial. Once I had someone helping and guiding me, I made great progress.

MP:

I really enjoyed your response. In particular, the bit about non-seeking and non-doing as a means to surrendering to what is next in terms of inspiration. It resonates with both "art of allowing" and "waiting meditation" as well. I too persevered early on, bent on some higher consciousness or greater awareness. You spoke briefly about the value of teachers. Do you believe a teacher is essential? I want to get on with a deeper discussion of your current preferred meditation practice, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to ask the question regarding teachers.

Michelle:

Thank you. There are indeed wonderful feelings of connection when we finally experience that level of Consciousness. Congratulations on your dedication! My thoughts on teachers........ A teacher is only essential if the student believes he/she needs one. A lot of people use the phrase, "The teacher will come when the student is ready," which leads some people to believe they aren't "ready" since no teacher has come into their lives. I think that idea makes a lot of people put their progress on hold when they should just be going ahead with what feels good and feels right.

I don't think that everyone requires a teacher. Many people are able to follow their intuition and build a practice without additional guidance; all they need to know really does reside within. The need for a teacher arises when a person has a block in belief, they think they don't already have the knowledge or capability they need (which is sometimes lack of self-confidence), or an inner conflict keeps the student from reaching deeply within to access that inner knowing. I think teachers have a great responsibility to not imbue their own beliefs on students, but rather to help students build confidence and unveil their inner knowing, or resolve the conflict that stagnates their progress.

In my opinion, a good teacher says, "here is what I do, and here is how I do it. Follow my instructions and you will succeed." The basics may be very well taught, but there is a string attached to the success and the success is measured by how well the student follows instructions and attains the goal or level the teacher expects. A great teacher says "here is what I do, and here is how I do it. Now, use what works for you, forget the rest, and make it yours. You will succeed." No strings, no expectations, just allowing, just success.

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