Meditation seems to be on the fast track of becoming the “next wave” of fitness. What’s a finely tuned and toned body actually worth without an equally-tuned mind behind it to run the show? It seems we are finally starting to appraise and appreciate the entire package. Countless articles, testimonials, and clinical research all extoll the benefits of a regular meditation practice. But what’s that supposed to look and feel like? One of the most important messages starting off is simply this: let go of any pre-ordained ideas of having some type of “experience.“ That frees you from any self-imposed restraints and allows your meditation time to feel more natural and alive with curiosity, even if you label it as unsuccessful. Don’t beat yourself up. The work is in the consistency more than the result. Slow and steady shifts.
The Buddha taught that real wisdom is recognizing and accepting that every experience is ultimately impermanent. Nothing lasts. What you see and monitor closely through a neutral filter cannot trip you up. You are going to know what’s coming and head it off at the pass...well, sometimes. You would still be improving. The following is an excerpt that I wrote a while back that offers a slightly humorous perspective on this subject:
“Sri Dharma Mittra, in his typical trademark self-effacing humor and good natured scolding, points out that we have been, since the moment of birth, gradually surrendering ourselves towards demise (disease, old age) and ultimately death. Now in his seventh decade, Dharma has some helpful perspective and advice to offer on this point. Without a trace of vanity, he cheerfully uses himself as an example - grabbing fistfuls of gray hair and beard to great effect and then rakes his fingers down his face to exaggerate the sagging folds of his jowls. The room erupts in fits of giggles at his antics, but the message is loud and clear. That message being: this body is a vulnerable and transient vehicle, and in order to unlock the joy and freedom from deep within, we first need to recognize and eventually get past the superficial. While I agree that a lot of what he says is not exactly comforting in our youth-obsessed culture, it is a valuable and honest assessment offered with whole hearted sincerity.”
Meditation and mindfulness won’t make us into a perfect human. What we may find, however, is that we can, most of the time, find the calm composure necessary to pause, distinguish, assess and respond with more wisdom instead of blindly reacting to situations and triggers of our day-to-day. There can be a conscious choice to override those “auto-pilot” settings of entrenched behavior. That’s the magic right there - it’s in that one moment that invites you to simply wake up and steer an alternate course, change up your game, rotate your perspective. Because trust me, if you can manage this once, you can do it again and again...