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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meditation is hard!

I smile patiently and understandingly when I get that response from non-meditators. Ahh, patience. There's a simple, non-threatening word that most of us need more of. After all, everything we learned required some amount of patience. We didn't learn to tie our shoes in one day, although most of us don't remember that far back. Of course, kids today just Velcro their shoes. Meditation is no different than learning any other skill. It requires perseverance, patience and focus. We are re-training our minds to not think or judge. Notice I didn't say "stilling" the mind. I believe that is too lofty a goal when beginning to meditate. Let's just aim for not thinking or judging for now. That should be enough to keep your mind doing something. Because your mind wants to keep busy, have no doubt about it. As a test, try to stop thinking right now and aim to still your mind. The Buddhists call this "monkey mind". As soon as you've made the decision to stop the mind's fluctuations, it starts jumping around like a monkey from tree to tree. The most bizarre thoughts may come into your head, things you haven't thought about in years! I'm pretty amused with my mind when that happens.
Just tell yourself "Oh, just judging again" or "There's that monkey mind" and see where the mind takes you. It's called noting and is quite useful at consciously becoming mindfully aware. Try this for 5 minutes, aiming for once a day or at least 3X over the next week.