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Month: October 2017

Sticking with it

Now that I am meditating more consistently, I gravitate towards books about meditation, and usually these wind up being Buddhist in nature, because they’re such great sources for assistance in this long-term endeavor of taming my own mind.

However, and I’ve gone through this cycle a few times before, the more I read Buddhist texts or listen to Buddhist talks, something a little insidious begins to happen. Just the proximity to Buddhism creates a resonance within me that, despite the many helpful insights it offers, sets up a sense that, at heart, I am straying from what I know in my gut to be true. I can go only so far and no farther and still feel true to myself.

Looking at it more closely it’s the idea of linear time cause-and-effect that feels off to me. I see where it comes from, and I know that on one level, causality appears to function that way. But I also know that there’s no freedom in such thinking. It’s the view from the ground. I’m sure Buddhism transcends this view at some point, but not in books, perhaps.

We are each creating our own reality-experience, and this present moment is our point of power. We each have our own native, internal wisdom—the path that feels right for us. It’s truly a matter of sticking with it and giving it a chance to steep, to work, to deepen. Inherent in this native wisdom is the trust that if we need more information, it will appear.

I was watching a show about a young couple who live a subsistence lifestyle in a remote region of Alaska. She’s indigenous and he’s not. They were ice fishing, and after drilling out a few holes, he set up some clever commercially-manufactured rigs over the ice that would trip a spring and raise a flag if there was a bite, so he wouldn’t have to sit there jigging, and could go off and hunt something else. Efficient!

She, on the other hand, whittled down a short, strong piece of wood, tied a string to it and sat down by her ice hole contentedly, to fish the old fashioned way. She had no complaint with his methods, but she preferred the feel of jigging, the quiet solitude in beautiful surroundings and the relationship she was having with the fish and the lake.

I loved that. She didn’t compare, she just knew that what had always worked for her was good enough, so she stuck with it.

There is such great value in sticking with something that works and allowing it to become more and more skillful. Often, when we hit a crossroads at which our own innate understandings are about to deepen, there’s an increase of energy potential, which may feel similar to pressure or frustration.

At this point the ego, the established order of our human mind, likes to find a way to get rid of that beneficial energy buildup. We seek the new. The shopping-mind emerges. Maybe I could look out into the dream and find some new way of doing things, get some new understanding to add to my collection of facts. Maybe, since I’m not catching any fish, I should invest in some of those fancy contraptions with the springs and flags.

If we’re lucky, it won’t be too awfully long before the realization dawns that even though we might have picked up a few extra bells and whistles, we could have simply kept on track and had a little more patience.

It’s not a black-and-white situation. There’s a lot to be gained from following impulses and rummaging around in the dream. Sometimes it dishes up the exact right thing to take back to our own workshop of the mind. But the important thing is to remain your own authority, to trust your own gut feelings and to remain loyal to what you know, in your heart, to be true.

Changing my mind about metta

In past years, when I have tried loving-kindness (metta) meditation, it has seemed coercive—like a painting-on of false compassion that made no sense to me. It felt like my mother telling me to be nice, when I didn’t feel like being nice. Fake.

Now, however, my understanding of this practice has begun to deepen and I’m finding it useful to begin my meditation sittings with a little loving-kindness practice. Even just a minute or two seems to set the tone for being able to feel less reactive towards myself, kinder towards myself when my mind wanders.

Instead of focusing on feeling bad about the fact that my mind has wandered, I now focus on the wonderful feeling of coming back to the breath. So this practice seems to help loosen the tendency of the mind to make itself feel like a failure. It helps stop the sense of self-defeating ill-will towards oneself.

A couple of differences between what I do and traditional metta meditation is that I’ve pretty much done away with the words that are normally used, and I also don’t force myself to go through the whole scale of types of people, from myself, through loved ones, through acquaintances, through Donald Trump, unless I’m feeling like it. No rules.

I use wording that makes sense to me… wording that gets in there and scratches the itch. So I might say, May I be happy. May my mind feel clear and concentrated. May I feel strong and empowered. May I feel calm and friendly. And then when I switch it up to other people I tailor the words to fit the person.

And in dealing with people I’m not so enamored of, I find it easier and easier to sincerely feel my good wishes towards them and release myself from the binding quality of resistance. I use words like, May you feel safe. May you feel open-hearted. May you feel free of hatred. That’s enough. I don’t linger.

Metta practice reminds me of this quote from Abraham Hicks, which I have had tacked up at my work station for years:

“We would like you to reach the place where you’re not willing to listen to people criticize one another… where you take no satisfaction from somebody being wrong… where it matters to you so much that you feel good, that you are only willing to think positive things about people…you are only willing to look for positive aspects; you are only willing to look for solutions, and you are not willing to beat the drum of all of the problems of the world.”

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