Lawrence LeShan and Meditation : Perception of Reality

By Paulo Coelho

Is this new perception really important?

LeShan agrees that the problem is truly complex. On the one hand, we can “operate” very efficiently in this world such as we know it. On the other, we know that a considerable number of people worthy of our trust, such as Gandhi, Teresa D’Avila, or Buddha, sought to perceive this reality in a distinct manner, and that this led them to take giant steps and change the destiny of humanity.

Just like at the gym, where a good teacher always has a series of different exercises for each type of student, there is no single technique for meditating, and anyone interested in the subject should try to discover his own way. However, there are a few elementary steps which are present in almost all religions and cultures which use meditation as a way of encountering inner peace, which I shall now describe (based on Lawrence LeShan’s highly interesting book, How to Meditate: a Guide to Self-Discovery)

The first thing is to be aware of one’s own breathing.

Counting the number of times we breathe every two minutes, helps us concentrate our attention on something we do automatically, and thus removes us from that which is normal. At first, this may seem very simple, but we mustn’t be fooled by this simplicity: whoever decides to try out this exercise in practice, notices that this requires considerable effort and large doses of patience. However, as we do so (and we can practice conscious breathing anywhere, before going to sleep, or on public transport on the way to work), we come into contact with an unknown part of ourselves, and feel the better for it.

Choosing the place:

The next step is to try and dedicate ten or fifteen minutes a day to sit in a quiet place, and repeat this conscious breathing, trying to remain still (like the Zen monks we have already talked about here). Thoughts will appear, against our will, and at this moment it is useful to recall the words of St. Teresa D’Avila about our mind: “it is a wild horse which goes anywhere, except where we want to take it.”

Silencing without violence:

Finally, as time passes (one should know that this requires two or three months of exercises), the mind has emptied itself naturally, bringing with it great serenity to our everyday lives. However great our problems appear, however stressful our lives, these fifteen minutes every day will make all the difference, and help us to overcome – generally in a subconscious manner – the difficulties we face.

According to a well-known Zen story, Lao Shi asked his master, Wang Tei:

– What must I do to be closer to God?

Wang Tei told him to follow him high up onto a mountain, There, he took a candle from his bag and gave it to his disciple to light. Lao Shi tried several times, in vain.

– It is too windy, I can’t light it.

– But it’s not windy three kilometers away from here.

– What use is that? I’d need to walk all that way, to light the candle where there is no wind.

– Similarly, in order to educate the mind and light the flame of God within you, you must walk to a calmer place – replied Wang Thei.

Whether in search of God, or just in search of oneself, a man who meditates will find a calm place, and succeed in obtaining a clearer, more object view of the world.

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  1. eleonora says:

    trovo meraviglioso questo suggerimento…..Caro Paulo sappi che dal 2007 che ti seguo .I tuoi libri sono stati fonte di energia e meditazione…a volte ho pensato di parlare con il mio io piu’ profondo…questo ha fatto si che di te leggessi tutto ….sono felice di averti incontrato sul mio cammino*suerte* a presto da Eleonora.

  2. Carolena says:

    Reading your words Paulo is already putting me in a meditative state!
    Thank you!

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    The breath of life. Thanks for that.

  4. Agnieszka says:

    Thank you for those kind words dear Thelma.

  5. THELMA says:

    My dearest Jessica and Agnieszka, you both are so right..Thank you.

  6. Agnieszka says:

    Yes..dear Thelma…the silence..,but music is for me also the sound of my soul…quiet at times, or passionate…
    When you walk in the park and hear the wind, the birds singing and you feel…one,it is the moment when..the silence..becomes the music…this harmony with everything around you..with God.


  7. THELMA says:

    My dear Agnieska, of course, Music is the sound of the Universe…It is the sound of our Souls. If we could only hear it!
    Meditation for me is ‘silence’ of the mind or ‘passion’ of the Soul. Both transform us and we live in another ‘dimension’.

  8. Heart says:

    Perception of reality; I need a God of flesh and blood. When present nothing else matters. When separated, all that matters is to look forward to be reunited.

  9. Menelaos says:

    Dear Mr.Coelho,
    these are the practices that i have read in your books and i like so much to study about and be creative. To make things more specific and closer to peace, as you suggest from your contradictions i will use the term “exercise”. We have to evaluate what is an exercise and what is not an exercise and how far we can go with that and what is the total of the things that we can accomplish with exercises. If you pay a closer attention to the term, you may discover that the truth and the peace of life, is not only a dominant “reality” close to us every day, but “a diversity exercise” as life goes faster and faster. There were times that people could not imagine that this or that is possible to happen, had been isolated from the community, or had developed ephemeral channels of thinking, that proved later to have been sending them “back” systematically. In your article i can visualize the path goal practice and theory. But what can be proved more exciting and closer to your words is the art and the practice of “behavioral meditation”. This is what has been proved puzzling and complex for most of the people. Can we study and predict human behavior?? Have a nice day!!

  10. Tania says:

    Anlao – All I can suggest for u is to, Bless it !and surrender it to God or whatever it is u believe or have faith ..Hope that helps -Love and Light Tania

  11. Ushani says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Thanks for posting this article on meditation. There are lots of benefits to meditating. One of them to come closer to perceiving everything in its true nature: always changing. This applies even to thoughts and emotions that arise during meditation.

    Anlao: you can meditate on feelings of hate and see what happens. You’ll find that these thoughts and feelings will transform while you meditate. What seemed too much to handle will become more manageable.


  12. Vanuza says:

    Mago querido!
    A milenar Sabedoria Chinesa só nos acrescenta, por isso, sempre que posso, consulto o I CHING, oráculo do qual nem Jung deixava de estudar.
    A Torre detém um simbolismo impressionante, inclusive nos Arcanos do Tarí´, Livro Aberto dos Antigos…Há que se subir por ela, mas o importante deverá ser a descida!
    Obrigada, Amigo Paulo! Quando terei a alegria de víª-lo lá no nosso blog? Vou aguardar…Bjs

  13. Anlao says:

    This is unrelated, but I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question. Today I seem to need an answer with a sense of urgency: what do people do with hate? i thought i let it go, but sometimes it just seems that i add layers of other emotions over it and still… whenever i look deep inside still lurks there. how can i make it go away?
    what do other people do with hate???

  14. Agnieszka says:

    music gives me peace…

    “music is the reason..why time still exists”


  15. Mandarawa says:

    Meditating for me means going into my heart. This is a place where true inner peace can be found. You cannot find anywhere else. Why?Because it is a state of mind. Finding inner peace means being happy. Nothing in this world can make me happy if my mind is not at peace. So in reality I don’t have to go anywhere externally. I just have to make this internal journey. Then I can truly enjoy my life, people I meet etc. Only if I make my mind peaceful first.
    Breathing meditation is a preparatory practice. It is an exercise that is helpful in the beginning because if we try to focus our mind we find it very difficult. Our mind is like a river of thoughts, never stopping. In breathing meditation I concentrate on sensation of breath at the tip of my nostrils. It is great exercise for focusing the mind. But it is just the beginning, there is so much more to come.
    I try to sit down to meditate in my room when I have quiet moment, it is nice to be able to do it at the same time of the day.
    In general I think that meditation makes me better person.