There are many benefits to meditation. Let’s focus on just one: We refer to it as “centering” and it refers to grounding yourself in your consciousness, rather than simply following your habits and inclinations. It means being conscious of your thoughts and actions, and a judicious understanding of your motives. It means knowing why you do what you do. Really, it means self-control, and finally; self-mastery. Meditation can be used for this centering, as long as you know how to recognize it when you are there. So, Let’s take a look.
What’s at the Center?
If we were to look inside you in search of that single entity that you refer to every time you say the word “I” or “Me”, you will discover no such thing. It’s a funny thought but mystics and philosophers alike have reached the conclusion that no one single consistent self can be found at all. What you do have, however, is a kind of interplay between to apparently opposing forces. The following image is intended to represent that.
In Two Minds
We could refer to these “opposing” forces as order (Yang) and chaos (Yin), masculine and feminine, Apollo and Dionysius (for those who like the Greek Gods), restraint and impulse and we can even point to the left and right hemispheres of the brain. So when you look for who you are, you will find division, separation and polarity. You are two in one. Can they really both be you?
This is the basic drive to life. This is pure energy and potentiality. You could consider this the engine of all actions and the very spark of life. The Wolf Mind will compel you towards pleasure, survival and replication. The habits you have established over your life will offer the Wolf paths to satisfaction. The wolf will take the option that feels the best. This is often bad news because this is at the root of smoking, drinking, and pretty much every vice you can think of. This wild element must be tempered by…
If the first mind is the engine, the second is the brake. Without brakes, you crash. It is limitation and form. Sounds boring, but where the first mind rushes in (where angels fear to tread), the second mind is prudent. It looks for the right way to do things. It is what you could call a “hegemonikon” or an internal ruler.
Your meditation is for centering you on your internal ruler
The wolf without the Hegemonikon is a loose cannon. It gets completely lost in impulse and habitual action. The Hegemonikon is powerless without the wolf – All ideas and no action. They need each other. The wolf wants… yes, wants to be ruled. The leader needs… yes, needs to step up and take control. The wolf will object and try to drag you down the paths of habit – both destructive and beneficial because, and this is important, the wolf hasn’t a clue about what is good for you and what isn’t. Only the ruler knows that.
An Antidote To Chaos
When chaos rules supreme in your life, you can bet that your Hegemonikon (Don’t you just love that word?), is offline. We need to bring it online, and meditation is a great way to go about doing this. Going back to the Yin Yang image, it is like one side completely taking over and creating imbalance. We need our wolf to be healthy and strong, but not calling the shots. You already know who’s job that is.
Meditation for Centering – What to do
The wolf is all about movement, leaping around, checking for danger, looking for opportunities. The wolf is about fast action and instant reaction. The ruler is slow, still, steady, stable and focused. Time to bring that ruler online.
Take a Seat
The next time you sit in meditation and focus on one thing, the ability to make that decision and to stick to it IS the Hegemonikon. When you lose focus and float off into thought, that is the play of the wolf. Rather than following the wolf into his den of habits, we redirect our attention to our chosen point of focus. you are thus imposing the ruling faculty upon the wild one. You are, in fact, training. Meditation is precisely for centering you in that place where the ruling faculty hears the wolf, but doesn’t follow it.
Take a Walk
Here’s a meditation for centering that will put you, both wolf and Hegemonikon alike, to the test. Go out for a walk through a city street. Set an objective for a specific time; perhaps ten minutes to half an hour, and go out. Keep a relatively open awareness. As you stroll, be aware of the pavement so you don’t trip over, be aware of the terrain so you don’t crash into anything, be aware of the people around you.
Easy so far.
Apart from that, you train your eyes upon the horizon and do your walk. As you go, the wolf will feel very tempted indeed. There might be pretty girls and beautiful boys who catch your eye and throw you off your meditation. Catch yourself and go back to your open focus. There might be store displays with cool clothes, flashy cars, advertising and a million other things to tempt you with bright colours and loud noises. Catch yourself and go back to your focus. When you are distracted, it’s the wolf. When you manage to focus, it’s the ruler, the hegemonikon, the wise one… We could even say the “awakened” one.
As you practice your meditation, you get better and better and centering yourself in this awakened place, and the wolf can calm down. Your ruling faculty then actually takes up the mantle of command. Indeed, just as any good leader loves the ones they lead and does everything in their power to take care of them, we must ensure that the wolf doesn’t run itself (and us) into a wall. Meditation for centering, meditation for sleep, is a gift to yourself, from yourself. It will return balance to your life.
Brendan C. Clarke