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, accept that it’s there, let it go and return to the breath – always the breath.
Yet we have a lot of difficulty doing this simple thing. And maybe it’s the simplicity that causes us such problems. I mean, all we’re doing is sitting still and doing nothing – but most of us struggle. We either get bored, or suspicious that it’s not working, or we get frustrated, or we get to thinking that 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 used to instant results – after all, that’s what we’ve been conditioned to. We turn on a switch and a light goes on. Twist a tap and water appears. Take a pill and we feel better. But meditation isn’t like that. Meditation is like a flower – we plant the seed, but never see it actually grow – and we need to water it every day for weeks before we see it bloom.
Or maybe it’s because we’re 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 have 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 expecting 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 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, white light, mantra’s or affirmations or whatever – to try and ‘make it better’ – to get what we want – the buzz, the bliss, the calm – the result!
And this struggle to defeat struggle 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 all 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, will suddenly become noticeable. And they will push and pull at you from the inside.
Which is 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 accept the jingle jangle of our inner resonances, and let it all go, so we can sit peacefully still, with our attention temporarily at rest and our awareness bright and momentary as the resonances of our life gradually pass away – as they will if they are accepted and let go of.
So keep it simple. Choose a meditation method that makes sense to you, and stick to it, regardless of how you might struggle. Do it every day, without expecting anything, and gradually, the habit of stillness will form itself.
‘BEING STILL – MEDITATION THAT MAKES SENSE’, Roger’s new book, is available now.
‘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.)