I decided to take a break from the weekly blog about the “Four Foundations of Mindfulness”. For those who have patiently been reading along and wish to continue with this study please send me an email and I will forward additional reflections on the fourth practice of this series.
I feel the subject of that series is better suited to an on-line course than a weekly blog. I will convert the material I have written and my thoughts on the fourth practice to an on-line course sometime between now and early December.
This post and the ones that follow are offered to those who are still fairly new to practice. They are written especially for the folks who have joined my 4 week series at Say Yes to Yoga in Webster, MA. The series is co-sponsored by Booklovers Gourmet also in Webster.
For the folks in this series, and those who are not but who may have more experience with daily practice, please note the excerpts from my book “The Simple Path of Holiness” and the free on-line workshops on this web site. Both resources will be of help to people at all levels of practice.
Often people who are new to practice say they meditate while they are gardening or jogging or some similar activity. If this is all the level of interest you have with meditation then it makes sense to continue as you are doing.
But for those who want to explore meditation as a wider range of study it makes sense to find a balance between practicing meditation in times of silence and times of action.
Sitting in silence and stillness is a way to turn the focus from the external world to your interior life. Finding time to sit still in a quiet place, with the eyes closed, or half-closed, is a way of limiting the amount of activity in the body and brain. A person has a chance to be alone with their inner personal experience in a way one does not ordinarily have when the body is in motion and the senses are more actively engaged.
Over time through silent meditation practice and study you will begin to see how much more there is to your inner personal experience that you previously missed.
This activity is also a way to cultivate a new level of personal discipline. Sitting in stillness and silence for a few minutes, or for longer sessions, takes sustained effort. Watching the breath or repeating your sacred words takes sustained effort. Noticing how often the mind is distracted from the breath or sacred words and then gently returning your attention to the focus of your meditation takes effort.
Making these efforts will strengthen the aspect of your mind that is the effort-making force in your life. Cultivating this greater strength and discipline is needed to break through, or outgrow, whatever obstacles you feel may be keeping you from deeper peace and greater freedom.
Steadily seeking to allow the mind and body to settle into a slower rhythym will also prove to be refreshing. You will notice your mind will be a bit more clear and open as you continue to make the effort to be, as Thich knat Hanh says, “Present to the present moment.”
The discipline, renewed energy, and clarity of the mind will serve you well as the session comes to an end and you move on to the active hours of your day.
During the active hours of your day you can continue meditation practice by seeking to be more open to observing what is happening within you and around you. An effort to observe what is happening within you and around you with a simple innocent curiosity will allow you to be more present moment by moment to the realities and choices of your everyday life. This is the way of practicing meditation during times of action.
Making this effort to be more clearly aware during the active hours of your life will further strengthen the effort-making faculty of your mind. When you return to times of silence it will be that much more possible for you to maintain your focus on the breath or sacred words you repeat for longer periods of time.
What is important with both practices is this: Be patient with yourself. As simple as this work seems to be, it generally is more complex and takes longer to experience greater relaxation, calm, and clarity.
This is especially true for people with difficult challenges in their mind, their heart, and their everyday life.
Be patient. Be gentle. Keep going.
Meditation in times of silence and times of action is a critical part of the road that leads to deeper peace.
Please call or email. I am glad to hear of your thoughts or questions regarding your meditation practice.
Will Raymond firstname.lastname@example.org 774-232-0884
Author of The Simple Path of Holiness.
Host of MeditationPractice.com