Keep It Simple

Meditation is very simple – just sit still with your attention resting lightly on the breath. Notice what arises in the mind and body, always letting it go and returning to the breath – always the breath.

Simple.

Yet we have a lot of difficulty doing it. And it occurs to me now, that maybe its the simplicity that causes us such problems – mean, all we’re dong is sitting still and doing nothing. But most of us struggle. It either bores us, or it makes us suspicious that it’s not working, or it frustrates us, or gets us thinking there must be more to it than this. Or we get anxious and tie ourselves in knots trying not to be anxious.

Maybe it’s because we’re so used to complexity in our lives. We’re used to stuff that engages and fascinates us. We’re used to investigating how things work and breaking them into ever more complicated parts, perhaps to discover some better way of doing it or to find out how it works. After all, our creative, analytic habits created our complex, and wondrous civilization.

Not only that, but we live in a culture that celebrates ‘busyness’. We lionise the jet-setting businessman who only sleeps four hours a night; who talks fast and lives fast and crams his day full of stuff. We get anxious if the phone doesn’t ring, or if nobody ‘likes’ us on Facebook and Instagram. We feel left out if our friends don’t contact us.

All of which makes the simple act of stopping everything and sitting still, and doing absolutely nothing – and being content to do nothing – extremely hard to do, because we have all these habits that cannot cope with it.

So what’s my point here?

Well, I think these habits are not really our problem. Our problem is, when difficulty arises as a result of these habits, we keep trying to fix things. And this just adds another level of anxiety, confusion and fidgetiness to the mix.

When we find ourselves struggling, we immediately assume we’re doing something wrong – so we try to ‘fix it’ by trying another method, or looking for solutions with another teacher, or another book – to make meditation better. To be more successful as a meditator. We worry that maybe it’s not enough to just sit still and watch the breath – so we try visualizations, or white light, or mantra’s or affirmations – to try and ‘make it better’ – to get what we want – the buzz, the bliss, the calm.

And we only make things worse.

Acceptance is the key.

Accept that your mind and body are like a tuning fork that’s been repeatedly struck by a hammer, so it’s ringing with the resonances of your history. And these resonances exist in you as frequencies of anxiety and emotion, and patterns of habits that push and pull at you to behave in certain ways.

So when you stop and sit still, all these resonances and habits, which are usually covered by the activity of your daily life, suddenly become noticeable. And they push and pull at you from the inside.

And that’s why we have meditation – a set of tools to help us disengage with the push and pull of all this stuff – so we can learn something new. Something simple. So we can learn to sit peacefully still, with our attention temporarily at rest, and our awareness bright and momentary as the resonances of our life gradually pass away.

But first we must accept those resonances – accept what we have become, and not tie ourselves in knots trying to ‘fix ourselves’.

Just choose a meditation method that works for you, and stick to it. Do it every day, without expecting anything, and gradually, the habit of stillness will form itself.

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‘BEING STILL – MEDITATION THAT MAKES SENSE’, Roger’s new book, is available now.

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BEING STILL’ is available on Amazon as a paperback ………….. AUD $26.40 (incl. GST) 

‘BEING STILL’ is also available as a Kindle ebook ………………………………………..AUD $11.99 

‘BEING STILL’ the audiobook (including all exercises) ………………………………. AUD $25.00 

(The audiobook includes all the exercises, as well as ebooks of Being Still, to fit any device.)