A meditation practice is just that. A practice. People who are new to this practice may go into meditation with some preconceived notions, as in all new endeavors. What comes to your mind when you think about meditation?
Some believe that it is a way to “stop thoughts.” After a few attempts, one might realize the impossibility of stopping thoughts, come to the conclusion that meditation is impossible or “not for them” and then stop all together.
It is just about as impossible to stop thinking as it is to stop breathing. In short bursts, it’s even harder to stop thinking. You can hold your breath for 30 seconds. Try not having a single thought for 30 seconds.
With consistent practice, you can have more and more facility with being able to watch your thoughts and possibly create a new relationship to your thoughts. This is the true possibility in meditation.
Another belief about meditation is that it has to be done for a specific amount of time. The novice will insist that they sit perfectly still for, say 20 or 30 minutes. If attempted, this approach turns into torture. Again one could conclude that meditation is just not for them.
The practice of meditation is not about control or time. Ironically, control and time are the ego-driven values that mediation is designed to soothe! The demand that mediation be done perfectly, in a particular way and for an exact amount of time is what stops many from allowing themselves the experience.
The intention to meditate is a conscious act. The invitation is to allow for whatever is, and breathe. By taking time on a daily basis, even for a single moment, to sit (or stand, or lie down, or walk) and breathe into whatever is with an allowing attitude is a most powerful practice. To be with whatever life has given you today, just as it is, with no need to do or change or make wrong, and take a deep breath, is the beginning of freedom.
The practice of this freedom leads to a relaxed interest in life, as opposed to carrying the notion that something is bad or wrong (usually one’s self) and needs to be fixed.
As this practice grows organically and naturally, what is possible is that this holding of life with an accepting curiosity becomes infiltrated into everyday living. By purposefully declaring the intention to commit to being with whatever is in your heart today with compassion and acceptance, and sitting with that declaration, something new is possible.
If you breathe this declaration deeply into your body, noticing as you go where this is difficult, your body can relax more and more. As your body relaxes in the face of whatever is there, new strength is gained.
As you practice being with things just as they are, an ability to go with life is learned. As the tension is soothed, movement toward life becomes creatively active. Then you can take whatever action might be necessary with a fresh knowing. The practice of going back over and over a billion times to whatever is here in this moment, and taking a deep breath (nothing is life-threatening), and taking another deep breath (set an intention), and taking a deep breath (and allowing something outside your mind to realize that intention), when practiced throughout the day, leads to a life based more and more on creative interaction.
As life is designed to be. A practice of meditation.