In Europe and North America we are results driven people, this proven by the paradox that we likely come to meditation and mindfulness practice because of pain, anger, depression or fear, with avoidance of these symptoms as the goal.
The “goal” paradox is, that the benefits of meditation/mindfulness appear when we deliberately unfocus on fixing problems. When a student says they are interested in being more relaxed, enlightened or pain-free, what they really say is, “Right now, I am not okay, I can’t accept where I am at”.
But with practice, we discover that eliminating the drive for results can yield something like what we want; better awareness of our natural psychic balance, despite the unbalance. Acceptance becomes a key that unlocks the door to enlightenment.
If we are teaching meditation and mindfulness it is essential to embody this concept of natural innate balance in the face of students who come to us results driven, wanting to get somewhere, anywhere, other than where they are at right now.
But befriending ourselves right now is prelude to an enlightenment that germinates naturally, without force, flourishing under the right conditions that meditation and mindfulness create.
The teacher’s own practice and talk should embrace the knowledge and confidence that a willingness to accept all student’s innate ability for mindfulness creates a global climate that conducts growth and inhibits scepticism, doubt or inhibition.
Culturally, we expect a certain result or predictable outcome from our efforts, so it is difficult letting go of expectations for meditation.
Also, disappointment of expectation can bring suffering, and isn’t that what we are trying to eliminate?
Understanding that each meditation will probably yield different results, and that regular time and place practice leads to better outcome, then here is a beginner’s meditation checklist;
As much as possible-
- Choose a regular time – free of interruptions, distraction, noise- where possible. People with small children, demanding pets or dependent relationships may encounter challenges. Do the best you can. Set a timer for 5 to 10 min. at first.
- Choose a comfortable space – but not so comfortable that you fall asleep!
- Relax your posture – scan the body, looking for pools of tension; focus on letting go of the tension location by location. I start at my toes, moving up through the body. Sit with a straight spine, arms and legs relaxed.
- Begin to focus on your breathing. Some like to focus on the sensation of breath in the nostrils, some prefer the belly, others the chest – You use what works best.
- Let go of your day… Let go of yesterday… Let go of future plans… Focus on this time, this moment.
- Focus now completely on the sensation of breathing. Ideas, thoughts will come- when they do, refocus to the sensation of the breath.
- Don’t rush back into your day when the timer ends your practice. Enjoy your efforts. Allow an interval to reengage into life.
For more detailed beginner’s instructions Mindfulbalance.org comes highly recommended.
Try not to become agitated if you discover people and events seem to be interfering with your meditation plans or practice. This is showing our human reluctance to change.
I will be writing more about dependency and its relation to personal growth in future articles, so please stay tuned.
Peace and abundance to all.