Almost everything you do in life is to achieve something: If you do this, then you will get that; if you do that, then this will happen. You may not be used to doing something without an agenda. But in meditation, you do it just because you want to. There is no ulterior motive other than to be here, in the present, without a goal of succeeding or of trying to get anywhere.
If your purpose is to try to achieve a quiet mind, then the trying itself will create tension and failure. Instead, you are just with whatever is happening in the moment, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. No judgment, no right or wrong. Watching whatever arises and letting it go is all that is required. It is more of an undoing than a doing.
It is important to make friends with meditation. You are not here to battle with yourself; meditation is not the enemy. Nor do you need to make excuses, complaining that your mind is too busy or restless. Rather than resisting stillness, you can let the business and discomfort become your meditation.
In the same way, it will be of no help at all if you feel you have to meditate and then feel guilty if you miss the allotted time or only do 10 minutes when you promised to do 30. It is much better to practice for a just a few minutes and to enjoy what you are doing than to make yourself sit there, teeth-gritted, because you have been told that only 30 minutes will have any effect. Meditation is a companion for you to have throughout your life, like a dear friend you turn to when in need of reflection, inspiration and clarity. It is to be enjoyed!
Practicing meditation means slowly and gently training the mind to do something it may not have done before: to be still. The technique gives the mind an activity, and every time it wanders off on a thinking spree, you simply notice this and bring it back to the practice. The experience of stillness is accumulative: The more you are still, so slowly, the mind becomes quieter.
Here's a short practice for you to try:
Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just find a place to be quiet and focus on your natural breathing. As you do this, silently repeat one of the following:
* "Soft belly, open heart" with each in- and out-breath
* "Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile."
* "I am easeful and peaceful, I am love."
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be the Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Care2.com. Ed and Deb write Sprint's The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.
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