“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I was speaking to a friend last week about meditation. “I can’t be bothered”, she said. “There are so many other, more enjoyable things to do”. Continuing the conversation it became clear that she filled her spare time mainly with tv and reading. I wouldn’t criticise anyones lifestyle choices, if you have something that makes you happy then great.
I find though we sometimes use many of our activities as a temporary distraction technique, trying to focus on something, anything, to keep our thoughts at bay. This works to an extent but awareness always creeps in when we least expect or want it. That stomach churning feeling that randomly occurs halfway through our favourite tv programme, when we start thinking about what we have to do the next day, or out enjoying time with friends when we inexplicably start worrying about the bills. That nagging, gnawing feeling that something’s missing, just won’t go away, no matter how much we try to feed it with material possessions or divert our attention away from it.
We all experience life’s highs and lows and it is natural to want to chase the highs. We may embark on a new relationship, change job and for a while feel all is well. We either relax and enjoy that feeling or experience an undercurrent of “this won’t last”, “I don’t deserve this”. Then when the temporary feeling of euphoria does gradually fade away becoming a memory, what next?
We can find ourselves back on the periphery of happiness waiting until things are fixed, changed or improved to get better again. We get caught in the cycle of “when ………. happens I will be happy”. Always waiting, life becomes a perpetual struggle.
We are not born with these feelings of dissatisfaction. They build up bit by bit gradually consuming us and disconnecting us from our conscious awareness, the inner peace that’s always present that we have forgotten we have. Rumi said “we wander from room to room searching for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck”. Call off the search; we are what we seek.
Over time we have constructed a set of conditioned responses we call upon in every situation. When an event happens we label good we fruitlessly try to hang on to that feeling. When a situation we deem bad arises we resist and try to push it away causing us untold stress. We impossibly only want the good. The truth is we are human beings not human doings and we have gotten so busy doing that many of us forget to just Be.
Life is subject to flux. It’s beautifully wild, uncontrollable and ever changing. Recognising that the only thing we can realistically control in the long term is where we focus our attention is the first step on the peace path.
Through a regular meditation practice it is possible to change your relationship with your mind, dispelling the negativity enabling you to reconnect to the ever loving, still, silent space within.
Try the following simple meditation: –
- Be comfortable, ideally sitting upright on the floor or a chair with your spine as straight as possible. If you have a health condition that makes this posture uncomfortable find a position that works for you.
- Allow your attention to focus on your breath. This could be the air coming in and out of your nostrils or your chest or abdomen gently rising and falling.
- Feel each in breath and out breath whilst breathing naturally – you do not need to consciously slow down your breathing.
- When you notice you have been off thinking (which you will, this is perfectly natural) gently return your focus to the breath without judgement. (It is important to understand that everyone has thoughts when they meditate, it doesn’t make you ‘bad’ at meditating or mean it isn’t working for you).
- Repeat this cycle for at least 10 minutes every day. Each time you meditate it will be different so start each session with no pre-conceived expectations.
So why bother? Well for me it has really cleansed my thought process. Any fear, jealousy and anxiety has been replaced by a sustainable feeling of completeness. I feel an inner serenity that’s always with me. Ultimately the only way you can find out is by giving it a go yourself.
To attend a meditation workshop or receive one to one coaching and support (also available via Skype) contact me. Next workshop date 13th July, Northamptonshire.