I don’t call my quiet time mediation – what is medication anyway? Lots of people think of meditation as a way to make themselves better, or to feel better.
I tried to meditate for a year or so with no luck. I was definitely trying to make things better and because it didn’t happen I thought I just wasn’t good at it. I felt like a failure at it. I know I’m not alone, lots of people feel like this when they try to meditate.
Sitting still was almost painful because I am an active person physically. Mentally it seemed like torture, too. I thought to meditate meant to quiet my mind. Well, that wasn’t happening! My mind has about ninety-five things spinning around it that are of no consequence and about five things that are – okay, I think they are.
For me mediation seems to be about awareness, getting a wider perspective. It’s not about turning off thoughts or feelings. It’s about observing them without judging them. It’s also about not judging me! One of the books that has had a profound impact on my life is Pema Chodron’s book, The Wisdom of No Escape, Here’s what Pema has to say about mindfulness and observing. “Inquisitiveness or curiosity involves being gentle, precise, and open – actually being able to let go and open. Gentleness is a sense of good heartedness towards ourselves and others.”
What I came to realize is that I couldn’t be still and quiet because my mind was holding on to things. It wasn’t until I learned to let go that I could sit and let be. Every day when I run on the beach I let things go as I run along the shore.
Jon Kabat Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go There You Are, is a great read about the practice of mediation. “The last fundamental attitude of mindfulness is letting go. Letting go is letting be. You are affirming for the moment that you are no longer the product of your thoughts.”
When I sit quietly, I do one of a few things. Sometimes I observe my thoughts and feelings. I let them rise up and I look at them; I notice my judgments about them. If I have some pain that goes with them, or if I’m holding on to something, I let it all go for a time. I set aside the things that have weighed me down. I breathe in and out; I’m able to relax into the nice quiet space and it feels good!
Other times, I notice my surroundings; I also notice any judgments I have about my surroundings. Sometimes, I simply notice my heartbeat or my body, any pains I may have, or just my breath as it goes in and out. Sometimes I sit in my living room and listen to the clock tick as my heart does, too.
In her book, Pema Chodron talks about the truth of who we are. “The point is that our true nature is not some ideal that we have to live up to. It’s who we are right now, and that’s what we can make friends with and celebrate.” I like to sit in my back yard and make friends with me! The poem Desiderata says, “You are a child or the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.” I breathe in to that child in me and that child in you!