Full title: The Space Within: Finding Your Way Back Home
No matter how many books I read on meditation, I always seem to learn something new when I pick another one up. The Space Within is one of the more excellent books that I’ve discovered- not pushing any particular way of being, just quietly encouraging the reader to go within and embrace what’s there.
On separating our consciousness from the universal energy that surrounds it, Neill compares the mind to a book and I’m sure most Goodreads users, like me, could easily connect with the metaphor:“Think of ‘quiet’ not as an absence of thought but as the space inside which the noise of your thinking arises. What makes this tricky, at least to begin with, is that at first glimpse the noise is more interesting than the quiet …look at the white background of this page. Chances are you can still see the words, and even read them, but without noticing it, at some point you will once again become absorbed in the words and stop seeing the white of the page.” loc 192, ebook.
Why bother to meditate? : “There is a space within you where you are already perfect, whole, and complete. It is a space of pure Consciousness- the space inside which all thoughts come and go. When you rest in the feeling of this space, the warmth of it heals your mind and body. When you operate from the infinite creative potential of this space, you produce high levels of performance and creative flow.” loc 207 And more, promises Neill. I’ve meditated for many years and I’ve experienced some extraordinary things. It wasn’t always easy and it didn’t happen all at once, but I can say, from personal experience, that this particular claim is absolutely true.
Thoughts are incredibly powerful things. I think we forget just how life changing your personal perspective can be: “… we live in a world of unrecognized thought. Thought is the architect of both hope and despair, the source of every color in the emotional rainbow. … But unrecognized thought demands our attention and fills our consciousness. And when we get caught up in thought, we lose our way.” loc 324, ebook. And also: “We live in a world of thought, but we think we live in a world of external experience. The mind is not a camera, it’s a projector. We can’t tell the difference between an imagined experience ‘in here’ and what’s going on ‘out there’- and that confusion creates a lot of confusion.” loc 375, ebook. You create your own reality- but it’s easy to forget that and blame other people for your circumstances.
When I read this next passage, I thought of How The Secret Changed My Life and the incredible importance that people placed on feeling good. Neill points out that it isn’t anything to get wound up about: “There’s no such thing as a solution to a feeling. Because we don’t recognize this fact, we spend huge chunks of our time and energy trying to ‘solve’ our feelings by changing them to ‘better’ ones or eliminating them altogether. … When it’s okay to feel good when you feel good and bad when you feel bad, recognizing that as thoughts change, the feelings change with them, there’s no need to prefer one feeling over another, let alone attempt to fix it. And when you really see that for yourself, you being to experience more of the deeper feelings that make life worth living.” loc 457, ebook.
This is a great place to start if you’re just learning about meditation/mindfulness but it’s also appropriate for more experienced practitioners- if you breathe or think, you could probably learn something from this book. Some suggestions for further reading: Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Meditations for Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, or Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.
Thank you to NetGalley and Hay House Publishing for a digital copy of this book! And, thank you for reading.