Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why meditate?

Why practice meditation? One reason is to practice building the muscle of bringing ourselves back to the present in the midst of daily life. When we take the time to sit quietly and bring our attention to our own inner process it is letting ourselves know that we matter. It is saying to ourselves," You are important enough to me that I will show up for you." Even in the midst of there being too much to do, (and there is always too much to do) taking a moment to breath and honor our own life force is beneficial. We all grow up with the myth that it's OK to rest when the work is done. As we all know from experience the work is never completely done. Something else to do always arises that needs our attention. With the intention to spend a few minutes a day sitting quietly in our own sacred space inside, we move ourselves up on our priority list. Drawing a circle around ourselves in the air is the symbol of this sacred space. It reminds us of our intention to center ourselves in the midst of whatever. Meditation practice isn't an all or nothing thing. You don't have to go to a weeklong silent meditation retreat to derive benefit. The discipline to pause and ask for help inside, or to appreciate one thing about yourself, or to breathe and rest quietly pays back in the form of less reactivity in daily life. Freedom is the capacity to pause between stimulus and response.
Any way we can support ourselves in having a moment between what comes at us in life and how we respond is useful. Pausing to notice ourselves and be mindful of what's going on inside of us gives us a moment to choose to react differently than our usual automatic conditioning. It allows us to respond differently than we've always done. Pausing gives us the option of witnessing mindfully and choosing a new option. Meditation gives us the practice of returning to the breath or to whatever is our chosen focus, no matter what arises. That practice teaches us that there is a possibility of responding in a new way in our daily life when something is overwhelming or threatening or upsetting. It gives us practice in bringing our attention inside and soothing ourselves. Saying to ourselves, "I am here for you in this moment with whatever is going on." I am writing this in honor of my own resistance to meditation. It is so easy to tell myself in the morning when I usually sit that there isn't enough time or that my time would be better spent checking my e-mail. Somehow it is scary to commit to being present and being quiet. I want to recognize that I am afraid because my learned response is to continue being a human doing and forget that I am a human being. Meditation practice supports me in knowing I am so much more than what I do. How about you?

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