So I meditate a lot. Once a day. Every morning. I’ve been meditating for probably a couple of years with only some small breaks. Its been an interesting (and beneficial) experience, but that is not what I wanted to write about today. Rather I want to share a not-so-original insight from my meditation sessions today.
What meditation (or “mindfulness”) allows you to do is to be AWARE, instead of being swept away with the stream of the mind. It allows you to stand at the edge of the bank and be AWARE of the stream, to see the water flowing, but not to fall into the water of the mind’s incessant thoughts and to be swept away by them, losing awareness and becoming lost and intertwined in the stream.
During this morning’s sessions, I was aware of thoughts that were dragging me into the future. And I was also aware of other thoughts, which were dragging me into past events.
These particular future events were attended by emotions of worry, what-ifs, potential and unrealised pain and disaster.
The past event were full of hurt and loss and regret.
The present – was only awareness. Living in the moment as they say.
I’m sure what I’m saying is old hat to Buddhists, I think that was one of the Buddha’s big realizations that suffering is caused by these things (could be grossly wrong here, I’m not familiar with Buddhist philosophy).
Both the past and present are gone and we have no control over them, yet these “tenses” are I would say definitely cause the majority of our suffering.
Being fully PRESENT allows you to EXPERIENCE what is happening right now, being AWARE of emotions and thoughts, but not being swept away by them which can cause unnecessary suffering.
Meditation has a LOT of subtle but profound benefits (more on that later). It is something that needs to be EXPERIENCED. Even if I describe it perfectly, I could never do the benefits of meditation justice unless you actually feel it for yourself.
As an action point and a great starting point – start with HeadSpace.
Do 10 minutes of meditation per day for 10 days using their app.
BTW I did a bit of browsing now on Buddhist related teachings on this topic and here are a couple of interesting quotes:
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.
According to Buddha, there are four stages of deeper concentration called Dhyana: 1) The first stage of concentration is one in which mental hindrances and impure intentions disappear and a sense of bliss is achieved. 2) In the second stage, activities of the mind come to an end and only bliss remains. 3) In the third stage, bliss itself begins to disappear. 4) In the final stage, all sensations including bliss disappear and are replaced by a total peace of mind, which Buddha described as a deeper sense of happiness.
Note: I am talking about religion at all. Buddhist thought though has a lot to say on mindfulness and thousands of years of experience relating to it, so I believe there is a lot to learn from Buddhist views on this topic.