We are delighted to have an article written for our #blog by #PaulMeek author of the book #The Silence Between The Noise”.
Paul has been practising #Mindfulness since 1997 and has written this account of his #MindfulnessJourney ………
Starting and mindfulness practise (and keeping it going)
Starting a mindfulness practise can be a challenge and keeping it going once it is started can be even more of a challenge. In this article I’m going to focus on two main areas that cause problems for “getting started and keeping going” I remember when I first started, my biggest hindrance, looking back now, was the need to achieve something with my meditation. I’d sit morning after morning practising. I’d go to meditation centres and sit there trying to gain something from meditation. The initial results were good, I felt calmer than before, more in touch with others, a bit happier so I was pleased and kept going. However, after a couple of years this levelled out and not much really happened in meditation after that, it became old hat. I gave up for a while, couldn’t be bothered to get up each morning and practise, and slowly, slowly over a few month period my mind started to lapse back into old habits, stressing over the past or the future and my sense of wellbeing dropped. After eight months of slackness and feeling far less in balance I realised how valuable meditation was so went back to the cushion and have stayed with it each morning ever since. That was some fifteen or so years ago now and what I can report since is that, I do have a tendency to achieve and that has been my biggest battle in meditation.
Mindfulness is being just now, with however it is. It is also looking at ones actions and speech, being careful with this so as not to add worries to the mind over what one has said or done. This has the benefit of minimising harm to others through what you do or say. Together with meditation and daily awareness, it all acts as a feed back loop and allows the mind to settle further into the present moment. The need to gain something though is a powerful one, even in meditation. One can make gaining insight and wisdom their aim in meditation or just gaining calm. As soon as there is an aim of gaining something from sitting, calm and insight run a mile, they will be no where to be found. The mind instead will simply cycle through gain and disappointment, the two come together. Just being sits in between the two, there is neither gain there, nor disappointment, it is just sitting with the present moment as it is. It can be as simple as being with the breath, or being with the posture of the body. It can be being with feelings as they are and not adding or taking away from any of them. This has the effect of nourishing the mind, giving it a resting place for half and hour or so but not in a can’t be bothered mode. The can’t be bothered say like slumping in front of the TV and zoning out, isn’t it. Sitting in meditation takes a certain amount of energy and perseverance. Once you’ve got to the cushion or chair, closed your eyes and turned inwards it is then using that energy wisely that will make the difference between and “doing meditation” and a “being meditation.”
A good approach I learnt was to initially adopt an open, non-going anywhere attitude in meditation and just observe how the body and mind is. If thoughts were racing around, that’s ok just observe this. If the body felt drowsy, just observe that. Do nothing other than accept what is there and slowly let the energies settle in their own time. They would because the mind is like a pool of churned up water that naturally wants to go back to stillness, all you have to do is let it. Don’t stick your finger in and churn it up more, just watch it and let it settle. It will.
Confidence in letting the mind settle is probably the other factor that has kept me going over the years. Initially there can be a panic in meditation, “My mind will never settle, I’m useless at this and the more I try the more it seems to churn up!” As said above, the mind is like a pool of water, it will settle if you just give it time, observe but don’t force it. Once it does, it is like a revelation, “All I had to do was sit and wait and hey presto, the mind calmed!” While waiting sure you can watch the breath or the body with inner awareness, that’s ok be gentle with this though. Confidence will grow slowly really, I found that it grew over the years and now if my mind is a mess I don’t mind, it is how it is so I just sit and wait, then in settles all by it’s self. Simple and that is what I’ve found is a factor that keeps me going after all this years, now in a “being way” rather than a “doing way”.
Pauls website http://www.establishmindfulness.com/#!paul/c1cdk