Sunday, January 23, 2011

The here and now

I just found a very fine article on meditation in the UK newspaper the Guardian. It has the very mundane title, "How to meditate: An introduction". Here are some bits I really appreciate:
The aim is simple: to pay attention – be "mindful". Typically, a teacher will ask you to sit upright, in an alert position. Then, they will encourage you to focus on something straightforward, like the in- and out-flow of breath. The aim is to nurture a curiosity about these sensations – not to explain them, but to know them.
Mindfulness, then, is not about ecstatic states, as if the marks of success are oceanic experiences or yogic flying. It's mostly pretty humdrum. Moreover, it is not a fast track to blissful happiness. It can, in fact, be quite unsettling, as works with painful experiences, to understand them better and thereby get to the root of problems.
Then, it's about knowing yourself better, something recognised as a crucial part of living well across a wide range of traditions. It's striking that today we often don't take the time to do so. Hence, perhaps, many of the ills of the western world.
I do recommend that you click through and read the whole article (which is quite short). The page also has links to a number of other resources for meditative practice.

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