“If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that – then that will take you are far as you can go. And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.”
In a comment on the recent post, How to Meditate, reader Linda wrote about the peace and calm she experiences when meditating, then acknowledged, “I want to find the way in to that state more often.” I imagine Linda is not alone. Does anyone out there want to feel peaceful and calm more often?
Discovering a state of inner tranquility, through meditation or any other means, is revolutionary. In this busy, driven world we live in even a few moments of silent awareness can change everything. When we discover that this haven of calm is always available within us, we realize that a moment of stopping and dropping in brings sanity and perspective. This is everyday meditation.
Meditation in This Moment
As we addressed in a previous post, true meditation is simply being aware of everything without resistance. Being aware takes a movement of our attention away from outer circumstances and the stories we tell ourselves about them. We go from being involved with the contents of our restless minds to being the space that everything arises in.
Why not try it for a second right now? Close your eyes, and move your attention first to your breathing, then to the space prior to the breathing from which the breath arises. Or look at the space in which these words you are reading is appearing. You will notice that that inner space is clear, quiet, and undisturbed. It is peace itself.
As we can see, this space is available, always. When it is revealed, it is just like the clouds parting to reveal the sunlight that has been there all along. A formal meditation practice is a training ground that adds a great deal of support to this realization, but the only requirement to be aware is a willingness to shift our attention.
Obsessively engaging in thinking, most of which is unproductive, can be thought of as a habit. Moving our attention away from thinking can feel like we are trying to stop a freight train barreling down the tracks. But freight trains can slow down, and becoming aware that we have been thinking is like the moment the brakes are applied. There is a stopping – and then the opportunity for a conscious choice. These moments are overflowing with possibility. Where do you choose to place your attention?
Every time we realize that we have been caught up in thinking and shift to the space of awareness, the habit of thinking softens. Every time we make the choice to stay awake to what is actually happening, we know peace.
We cannot make ourselves become aware that we have been thinking. These moments simply happen. But, by implementing the suggestions below, we can nudge ourselves in the desired direction.
- Meditation Practice. A regular meditation practice is a great support to increase the moments of awareness. When we set aside a few minutes every day to sit quietly, we are removing ourselves from the outer stimulation of the world and inviting in moments of awareness.
- Investigate the Habit of Thinking. Become very familiar with the experience of being caught up in thinking about something. What is happening in your body? What emotions are arising? What is the energy like that is motivating the thoughts? Do you feel depressed, anxious, or conflicted. Any of these experiences can signal you to wake up and make the choice to shift your attention to the space of awareness.
- Be with Like-Minded Others. Go to a meditation group. Connect with people who are interested in exploring inner stillness. Read blogs that support truly knowing yourself – rather than fixing yourself.
- Know Your Triggers. Make conscious choices about the stimuli you expose yourself to. Be fully in the world, but be wise about how you do it. If violent movies agitate you, if you find the news disturbing, make another choice. See how you can orient your life toward stepping off the spinning hamster wheel and allowing yourself to be still.
- Give Yourself Reminders. It might sound mechanistic, but it can be helpful to get into the habit of stopping for a moment before getting out of bed in the morning or starting your car.
When we become aware, we wake up from the lives we create in our minds to experience what is actually here – this breath, these sensations. Peace is closer than we could ever imagine. Be still, and you will know reality as it is – fresh, clear, and alive.
image credit: Monica’s Dad