In my last post, I offered some guidelines for practicing mindfulness meditation. Meditation is now becoming more common in the Western world, as a tool for stress reduction and for finding more meaning and fulfillment in life.
Not everyone finds sitting still for 15-25 minutes easy. At some point in meditation, we experience our mind’s restlessness – a strong desire to be somewhere else, doing other things. You’ll think of all the other matters that need your attention. When you experience restlessness, you’ll notice how you shut down your sense of “here and now” – your own presence in the world as it really exists. It’s easy to become distracted, and hard to sit and be still with ourselves. As you begin to meditate, focus on nothing more than your breath. Shortly, you might find that your mind has wandered off or has distracting thoughts. Simply acknowledge it, and return to your breathing.
You may struggle to simply observe thoughts as they arise and to let them go. This is because the judging mind kicks in. We find it difficult to not think of problems, opinions, and “things that need to be fixed.” Worse yet, we begin to judge the thoughts themselves, and judge our judging.
This is when we begin to discover how we interact in the world. When we shut off the here and now, we distort our sense of purpose and miss opportunities to appreciate our reality. The ensuing anxiety prevents us from being open.
To become mindful, you must understand the distinction between trying to improve yourself versus experiencing who you already are:
- To be mindful, you acknowledge you’re already open (not trying to be more open).
- You acknowledge the wisdom and kindness you hold within (not trying to be more wise or compassionate).
- You don’t strive to achieve a better, improved you. Rather, you meditate to get in touch with who you already are. Discover your basic sanity and true qualities, as they already exist within you. You turn off the inner judge and critic.
The Art of Non-Achievement
Practice mindfulness meditation with non-achievement in mind. Meditation’s benefits are attained by exercising unseen “mindfulness muscles” as you sit still. Focus and concentration improve with each practice of meditation. Eventually, you learn to turn off the part of the brain that judges.
When you slow down, you gain a realistic picture of what’s going on instead of speeding through your day – or worse – speeding through your life.