The most stubborn misconception conjured up by the word “meditation” is that it’s all about silence and concentration, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, peace and quiet help you look into your mind more clearly, but what are you looking for? The most common answer is balance. Under ideal conditions, mental silence and concentration help a lot, but the nine-to-five frenzy is still waiting out there for us, and it’s even harder to go back to once you get a taste for real downtime.What to cultivate, what to restrain. Important discernments! And meditation will definitely help.
Beginners often come to meditation in search of control. They want the mind to obey, and its blithe refusal to do so comes as quite a shock. The thing to remember is that it’s not the mind that’s at fault — it’s the expectations. The mind isn’t some sort of command central, but a non-stop stream of consciousness. It will never politely obey your instructions. How many times have you commanded it to stop torturing you with guilt, to crave food less, or to make you think before you speak?
Although the mind isn’t compliant, it’s not hostile either. It can be cultivated like a plant or anything else that grows in familiar but unpredictable patterns. The idea is to gradually nudge your mental patterns into the shape you want. The big question is, what shape?
To answer that question we first have to become familiar with the patterns that are already there, which is where mindfulness comes in. It also enables us to see how those patterns unfold, and what good or harm results. It helps us decide what to cultivate and what to restrain. This all takes time and the ability to turn your mind inwards.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Learning to shape your mind
I just found a wonderful little article on meditation called "Meditation on your feet" by Stephen Schettini. Here's how it gets started: