Has your meditation ever felt like a wrestling match with your mind? Sometimes, we may sit down and appear still on the outside but there’s really a war going on internally. We have all these ideas about what meditation is, or should be, and we can get stuck trying to create a certain outcome. We exert an enormous amount of effort trying to manipulate our experience to be different than it actually is, at times leaving us feeling frustrated, tense in our bodies, and lost in thought. I’m here to share that it doesn’t have to be this way.
We are so conditioned in our society to continue ‘becoming’ (better, more spiritual, more peaceful) to the point where the search to ‘better ourselves’ can be stressful and keep us on a self-improvement hamster wheel if we are not conscious of it.
I am inviting a way of meditating that is about stopping that search for ‘more’, whether that be for more happiness, peace, success, or even enlightenment. The ironic thing is that in stopping, the fullness that is already here is revealed and can be experienced more fully.
When you first start to meditate, you will probably notice that the mind’s habit of focusing on thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds and memories is endless! There are some meditations that try to control attention so you don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of the thinking by using breath-work, mantras, visualizations and so forth. Some of these techniques may be helpful at first and I encourage you to follow what feels right for you. I have found that honoring what has felt right at different times in my life has always been supportive.
The meditation I invite you to experience is a bit different from the ones mentioned above because it has no direction or goal. It is what I have discovered to be the most profound and purest way to meditate. It is not about creating a certain state of ‘high’ consciousness, which is temporary, and hooks wanting to get back to it. This meditation is more of an opening and relaxing into the receptive awareness that is allowing everything to be as it is now (however now is). In this way, there is no effort needed to get somewhere you aren’t already.
It is about recognizing what is here when all those tendencies and movements away from ‘what is’ are paused. Notice that there is an awareness that observes everything that comes and goes, and how this awareness is always here, content and unchanging. This meditation is an invitation to discover what already allows this moment, however it is, to be just as it is, free of judgment, completely neutral.
When awareness isn’t focused on the mind’s compulsive contractions, identifications and control patterns, it is freed up and all of these habits are left to be as they are. There is no resisting of the thoughts that arise and there is also no indulging in them. Even if the idea that ‘you shouldn’t be thinking’ in meditation comes up, recognize it’s just another thought and not something to be believed or pushed away.
If the mind is loud, it may be helpful to first put attention on awareness itself and discover how awareness experiences this moment. You may also find it helpful to ground into Reality by first focusing attention on the breath for a few breaths and then let that technique go. If you find that you are taken away by a thought, that’s ok, because that which recognized you being carried away by thought, was not in the mind. What noticed was grace, and it is an invitation to come back to the truth of what is actually happening here and now. Instead of beating yourself up for being lost in thought, we can choose to let it be a gentle reminder to come back to now and it will condition the mind to celebrate grace’s intervention.
As you gently relax and abide as the larger all-encompassing presence of awareness, stillness is more naturally experienced as your true nature. Awareness naturally returns to its peaceful, silent condition and opens more fully to experience the largest expression of your Being. This, then, becomes a way of living and not limited to the cushion.
I wish you all peace and nourishment in this moment…enjoy yourSELF.