In mindfulness meditation, "we are only becoming familiar with the nature of our own minds." ~~~Yongey Mingym Rinpoche
When I started practicing mindfulness meditation almost thirty-years ago, I had high hopes. I was transitioning from outpatient drug and alcohol treatment into a more "unsupported" sobriety. So, I was looking for a discipline that could help me maintain and build on my growing sense of wholeness and my developing skill in living a responsible and positive life.
Based on what I knew about mindfulness meditation, I thought it could help me look at my past and present life in a new, more down-to-earth, and sympathetic way, just like therapy had. I hoped it would further my healing and growth, and it has. Therapy and mindfulness meditation also helped me to befriend myself anew. Consequently, I became a better friend to everyone.
In mindfulness meditation, we simply sit, or stand, or walk, or lie down, and from any of these postures, we notice what is happening in our bodies, minds, and emotions now. We rest our attention, without judgment of aggression, in the presence of whatever is happening now.
When our minds wander in meditation, we gently return to what's happening now. We don't give up on ourselves. We come back to where life is always lived, in the now. This helps us see all of ourselves, the shadow together with the light. The instructions invite us to neither reject nor embrace any of our parts, feelings, or thoughts. It's a very natural process that does not depend on special mind states or mental manipulations. We simply rest our awareness with what is.
Eventually, if we practice, this helps us settle into ourselves with tolerance and affection. And this tolerance and affection begins to extent to everything else in the world. But it’s not a one off deal. Mindfulness meditation is a discipline and takes the right kind of gentle and persistent effort. We don't strain or push, but neither do we give up.
Along these same lines, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a great teacher of Tibetan Buddhism said,
Doubtless, meditation is one of the most important and at the same time most confused subjects that we experience. It’s confusing because of our own expectations that the practice of meditation should bring about a certain sense of tranquility, equilibrium, and spiritual “high.”
I would like to emphasize that the practice of meditation... is no more and no less than working with yourself—sitting with yourself, alone, without entertainment..." ~~~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
In harmony with Trungpa Rinpoche’s approach is this quote from Sayadaw U Tenjaniya, a Burmese monk and skilled meditation teacher.
[When meditating] you are not trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. You are trying to know what is happening as it is. ~~~Sayadaw U Tenjaniya
These great teachers, and many others, have informed and shaped my practice and my life. I am deeply grateful to them for their instructions. They and I are saying that to practice mindfulness meditation is to simply relax and give your attention to what is, as it is, without judgment of struggle, right now.
To learn more about Mindful Mediation and follow Soto Zen Priest, Mark Nelson, www.wisdomsheart.org/newevents/