Whenever we put forth energy on a project, generally we like to see results. Students participating in the meditation classes taught at the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, Kentucky, commit themselves to a daily practice of meditation. Within a short time, they often become frustrated with the unruly disposition of their untrained minds. Their meditation practice can become a tedious exercise and they begin to question the entire process. The question is asked: how will I know if I’m making progress?
It is a reasonable concern. And the simple answer is taken from the Gospel: you will know you if your meditation practice is bearing fruit whenever you encounter the sign of Jonah in your daily life. After being hurled into the sea, rather than drowning, Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish before being spit upon the shore. His sign is the preeminent pattern of death and resurrection.
The students are instructed not to look for results during the meditation period itself. To judge their development by the success or failure of any particulate meditation session is futile and a pursuit rife with ego concerns. Rather, they should look for results in the way they live their daily lives. Whenever they discover a natural inclination to die to themselves and their ego habit patterns of desire, the new life of Spirit is beginning to rise within them. That is the fruit of a daily practice of meditation.
Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP is the director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, KY. See his website: www.earthandspiritcenter.org.