Hold on to your didgeridoo, we’re going to talk about the open nature of consciousness…
Yep, it’s a big concept but actually one you live with all the time. A good example is hearing sounds. This is a tricky idea to get your head round because it’s such a normal part of your experience. But here goes…
You hear stuff all the time, right? But try not hearing things.
We’re not talking about your ability to control sounds: putting your fingers in your ears or playing the trumpet. We’re talking about how you receive sound.
You can’t make make sounds last a second longer than they do. Noises just come and go as they damn well please.
Hearing is effortless, you don’t need to do anything.
Your awareness (another word for consciousness) is always open.
There is no effort to be made. Likewise, you don’t control your ability to taste, touch or see.
Once you stop thinking all the bloody time, meditation makes the unstoppable nature of this river of sensation ever clearer. You can relax with the constantly changing input from your senses. Like really relax.
Eventually you’ll see that all experience is like this. Sensations, thoughts, sights, emotions. They all come, do their thing and go.
You don’t have to respond to everything you receive. The effort you make to control all this information is why you are tired, frustrated and scared. So relax and let them pass instead.
Meditation gives you space to be honest about how fucked off you are
One of meditation’s great benefits is that you have an opportunity to be completely honest about what’s on your mind and how you feel – even if that means you’re purple-faced, tear-stained and bewildered.
Nobody is entirely comfortable with strong emotion, particularly if you’re feeling so sad or angry that you’re not sure whether to scream or eat a banana
Feeling intense emotion is part of the human condition. So if you experience fear, excitement or a wave of sadness when you meditate, that’s okay. It’s good to acknowledge that any emotion is present, because noticing it is a step towards feeling better.
Stop fighting it
You may have been putting up a fight trying to hold off inconvenient or painful feelings. But pretending to be fine when you really want to howl is exhausting. Give yourself a break and allow what you feel to do its stuff.
Emotions have a physicality that needs to be worked through before you can let them go
Don’t judge your emotion, try not to become annoyed, even if it’s something you thought you had already dealt with. Putting so much energy into disguising your emotions is draining. If you’re feeling sad, pissed off, jealous or over-excited, so be it. Accepting how you feel brings relief, releases tension and encourages self-acceptance.
The more you meditate, the less biscuits and booze you’ll need to help you cope.
You want to meditate, but not today because everything is rubbish
You got turned down for a job, you’re worried about money and your go-to behaviours for handling this sort of anxiety are in full swing. You want to overeat, blame, booze, imagine nobody cares, watch porn – choose your weapon. The thought of facing all that anxious, itchy, tension in your meditation session is not appealing. Make a cup of tea. It’s never a bad idea. While the kettle boils, notice the pattern on the mug and watch the steam rising in an effortless swirl. Then make yourself this promise:
You can do all the destructive crap you want but only after you sit and meditate for 15 minutes.
If you’re not being nice to yourself, you’re flipping well doing it wrong!
There are great skills to learn from meditation: the ability to concentrate, emotional calming techniques, equanimity and how to flap your ears (kidding!) But if you try any of these without being kind to yourself you have missed the point. Because we’re all really good at beating ourselves up, most of us become easily annoyed or disenchanted with our efforts. Even monks who’ve been at it for 30 years get cheesed off sometimes.
Just noticing that you’re distracted is meditation gold. Getting to know how your mind works is what it’s all about. When you appreciate how downright bonkers it is in there, you are in a better position to deal with what’s going on with some grace.
You’re not alone if think if your meditation would go a lot better if your mind would just shut up at your command. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that, but the chatter will settle down eventually if you keep realising you’ve got distracted and refocus your attention. It’s important that the noticing should be done with some kindness, or at least a sense of humour at how crazy your mind is!
Here’s how to be kind to yourself during your mediation…
Actually allow yourself five minutes to meditate.
Are your shoulders up by your ears? drop ’em cowboy.
If you feel a bit strung-out or anxious just accept it and lower your expectation that you should be calmer.