The first competition of the Renaissance Faire at Compiègne in northern France along the Oise River had just ended. The last of the gallant knights dismounted from their trusty steeds at the conclusion of the jousting match. Axes, swords and lances were being put away. The horses were led from the tournament lists to the stables to be feed and quartered.
Jacques Pepin had traveled two days on horseback to reach the faire grounds. He arrived the evening before and was fortunate enough to still find a vacant bed at the Inn. He slept soundly after the weary ride. But in the morning he was up taking practice shoots as the knights were still in competition. He was dressed in a long sleeved green woolen tunic, feathered cap and turn style leather boots. He preferred the long bow when shooting. His handcrafted quiver slung over his left shoulder carried the arrows that would soon be let loose in flight.
The jousting was over and the archery was about to begin. Bales of hay were brought into the arena to serve as back stops for the arrows. Wooden targets were mounted on the bales while the firing line was paced off at 80 yards. Those who survived the first round of competition would shoot again at 120 yards.
When all was ready Jacques was among the first group of archers. They moved to the firing line. Holding the bow steady with his left arm, he drew the arrow back with the other. Sighting with his right eye, he held the arrow tucked in securely to his jaw. For a moment he held the shaft in silent repose, suspended in time, taking careful aim and then letting the arrow fly. It struck within an eight inch of the target’s center.
Jacques understood the principle – rest is the basis of activity. A drawn arrow held at rest contains the potential for dynamic flight.
Many years ago the biological clocks of our human ancestors adapted to the rotational period of the earth; once around every 24-hours. Today we are conditioned right down to the very core of our DNA to sleep during the night when it’s dark and to be active during the day when it’s light.
The rest that we enjoyed during sleep prepares us for the activity of the day.
During meditation we experience a unique physiological state that can be characterized as Restful Alertness. The body experiences rest deeper than that of sleep while the mind is more awake:
During sleep – 9% decrease in metabolic oxygen consumption
During meditation – 16% decrease in metabolic oxygen consumption
Over the past thirty five years scientific and medical research into the benefits of meditation has been explored with greater earnest. Research utilizing EKG’s (Electrocardiogram’s to study the heart’s electrical activity), EEG’s (Electroencephalogram’s to study the brains electrical activity) and a host of other measuring devices has been completed. Many social and psychological evaluations have also been studied and appear in medical journals and other literature.
The subjects were voluntary participations from the many different branches and philosophies of meditation – Buddhism (Mahayana, Shambhala, Theravada), Kundalini Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Mindfulness, Prayer, Tantric Yoga, Tibetan Buddhism (monks), Transcendental Meditation (TM), Yoga Nidra, Yoga Pranayama, Zen Buddhism (masters) and others.
In varying degrees, depending upon the actual type of meditation and length of personal practice, improvements were found in:
Better reaction time
Greater orderliness of brain functioning
Growth of intelligence
Improved academic performance
Increased job satisfaction
Increased self actualization
Lower hospital admissions
Reduced criminal recidivism
Reduced drug use
Reduction of biological age
… just to scratch the surface and name a few.
Now this does not mean that you will never need to see a doctor or end up in the hospital again. Unfortunately illnesses happen to everyone. Always see your doctor and seek profession help first. But adding meditation to our daily routine helps to keep us healthier and happier than we would otherwise be.
The long bow functions by converting the elastic potential energy stored in the limbs into the kinetic energy of the arrow. The archer draws and then holds the arrow at rest. The potential for dynamic activity has been stored. Just as the resting arrow is now prepared for energetic flight, so also the deep rest of meditation prepares us for a more rewarding and bountiful day.
Take deep rest every day to awaken the field of all possibilities in your life.