The Practice of Meditation
When we sit in meditation, with the intention of bearing witness to what arises, there is no where to hide, there is no where to run and we come face to face with ourselves. If we look at the phrase“no where” we can turn this around to “now here”and reside in the present moment.
Our body is rooted and grounded, a physical, stable anchor, a safe haven, completely committed to the expanded field of awareness that opens up. This state of awareness is often described as, "coming home", or "dwelling in the body". The result of staying and being, naturally elicits a state of relaxation. It is a naturally occurring by-product regardless of the headspace that ensues as we sit in meditation. Practising meditation is not about achieving, to get somewhere or reach a destination, or trying to stop thoughts or about pushing thoughts away to stop the incessant discursive mind. Its about staying, and committing to time and the mind space to just be and experience the moment just as we are . The saying that "what we resist persists" illustrates this perfectly - just try it!
It's also not about trying to focus on being only positive and happy either. From a non-judgemental consciousness we are able to see things with greater clarity, just the way things are stripped bare and revealed without premeditated expectations of how things should or shouldn't be. As we stay and breathe we uncover layers and peel them away to inhabit our essence of being, our true nature. We can sit and call upon our innate resilience to be completely honest with ourselves, no need for the stories we tell ourselves. No need to pretend, no need to gloss over the shadow side of our natures.
Meditation has many benefits, the first is simply sitting in stillness and allowing the mind space to just be. It is the perfect counter-balance to the high octane, fast pace of modern living, particularly when we are immersed in the fast pace of life.
As we pay attention to the breath, not just merely notice it, but feeling how it moves in the body, we are immediately present, in the moment, experiencing ourselves just as we are. Just breathing in and breathing out. We can reconnect on all levels of being in a wholesome way. This has a wonderful positive effect, just like a nourishing, nurturing salve that feeds the soul. And this is why meditation has really taken off - because we need it, or else we will drive ourselves mad with mental suffering!
We human beings are unique and united in that we can use self-control and freedom of choice. This comes from the ability to be self-aware. Awareness is the key to being able to stand back, to take a 360 degree view of our thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions and responses. We can choose to work with this innate ability, to nourish and nurture it so it becomes a skill for life. It serves us well as we navigate through the many twists and turns and the challenges of life we inevitably encounter.
And here lies the key, we can do something about the madness. A famous Buddhist saying is that, "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional". We have it within ourselves to exercise the free will and choice that is innate and part of us. We can cultivate a calmer approach to life and see things in a broader perspective. We can relieve our suffering!