Turning the mirror inward is a metaphor for the process of meditation. Medically speaking meditation has proved particularly helpful in cases where the patient’s physical and mental states have become severely disjointed.
In my eyes, the primary advantage of meditation lies in the fact that it is an entirely natural process – it allows the mind to discover its own subtlest layers without force, just as they are discovered in moments of calm quietness in normal life.
To unveil the most delicate feeling level of the mind, a meditation technique has to be as effortless as possible; otherwise, one is just forcing the mind into a preconceived mold. (The opposite of a natural meditation would be one where intense concentration is used.)
The classic description of a natural state of meditation is provided in the poems of William Wordsworth:
…that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on –
Until the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul;
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
These experiences sound beautiful, but until thirty years ago, no one had understood that they are crucial for human development. It was widely thought in the East and in the West alike that yogis and swamis were hermits who wanted no part of the vanity of the world. The most magical thing about them – that they renounced the world in order to regain it anew – was entirely missed.
It has taken hundreds research studies into the physiology of meditation to reverse this mistake, and to dispel the Western belief that meditation is some vague mixture of mysticism, psychological illusion, and religious faith. In fact, it is quite the opposite: an objective, repeatable phenomenon that can be validated by scientific means.
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).