In one of the blogs from Wildmind’s Buddhist Meditation, Sunada writes about the difficulty of inserting a meditation practice into our busy lifestyles. We hear so much these days about all of the benefits of meditation, becoming more calm, attaining greater mental focus, lowering blood pressure, etc. We want those things! But, finding the time, making ourselves sit down ………. maybe we can do these, but don’t we want to SEE those promised results?? Don’t we want our efforts to pay off???
Well, yeah, if we approach meditation as something that will change our lives, we do. But, as Sunada points out, meditation is really more about changing ourselves. Rather than making our lives different, we make ourSELVES different. By meeting our wild monkey minds, we learn to BE in a new way. Internal changes are the great benefit of a steady meditation practice, & – eventually – differences in our external lives will begin to appear also. In other words, we change ourselves, we change our whole world.
But first – the meditation. It can seem so daunting!! so hard!!! so time consuming, in a life that is already packed with activities & obligations. How to begin?!?
Sunada offers an analogy which likens meditation to learning to play an instrument: developing your “chops,” practicing scales, etc = sitting on the cushion, the formal meditation practice. This is not the fun part of being a musician, but it gives the basis for making the music that IS the fun part. And so it is with meditation too – sitting on that sturdy little cushion provides the basis for becoming different, for learning to BE in a way that is very, very different than the ways we are culturally taught to go about our contemporary lives. It is a way that will bring about changes.
Back to the musician, learning to play in a group or in performance = taking mindfulness out into the rest of your life. This is the INformal practice, & this is where the “being,” the way we go through our lives, starts changing. From the cushion – where we wrestle with the untamed monkey of our minds – we go out into our lives, with mindfulness. Now, from our time in formal sitting practice, we begin to see how our wild minds behave out in the world: this is the real work of it, & it’s where the “pay offs” occur.
In the course of our day, our frenetic lives, it is oh so! easy to lose track of what we are after: mindfulness is easy to forget, when we are working, arguing, hoping, feeding the family……… Here’s a nifty little mindfulness tool Sunada offers: S.T.O.P.
- Stop: Mentally step back from whatever you’re doing, even for a second or two.
- Take a breath: Literally, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Observe: Take stock of what’s happening right now, especially in your body and mind.
- Proceed: Resume ONLY after you’ve really paused to assess where you are.
Throughout our day, an infinite number of opportunities to S.T.O.P. will occur – but start with just once. Then …………. do it again ………….. It’s simple, it’s quick, but what a walloping difference it will make in ourselves, & in our lives!! Remember: when we’ve changed ourselves, we HAVE truly changed the world. And, if we love living our lives, & love being in this world, what choice IS there, really?