meditation, This much i know

Six Things Meditation Has Taught Me / Linda Williamson

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By Linda Williamson

I learned how to meditate at school, which was pretty enlightened for a Glaswegian secondary in the early 80s.

Two Buddhist monks came to my religious education class and led a guided meditation. I was fascinated by the monks (so exotic!) but meditation itself wasn’t a cool thing to do. It wasn’t something I told my friends or family about. Meditation was seen as a bit bonkers, religious and eccentric so I kept my mouth shut about it.

My meditation life has not been a straight path. At times I have been totally committed to it, doing week-long retreats, meditating for seven hours a day and seriously considering joining a Buddhist order. And there there have been long periods when I haven’t meditated at all.  But I’ve never lost my connection to it. I’ve been thinking about the the most important stuff I’ve learned from meditation and top of my list are:

1. I am in control of what I pay attention to.

2. I can find anything interesting.

3. I create most of my suffering.

4. Running away from what’s happening doesn’t help.

5. Left to its own devices, my brain is an endless source of bad advice.

6. Meditation re-connects me to how I want to live.

 

Tell us your six bits of meditating wisdom!
There’s always surprising and helpful things to learn from anyone’s life lessons  – so share ’em!  We’ll stick them then in the blog. Answer in the  comments or ping us an email!

 

 

meditation, Stark Reality, Wise things

Suck It Up!

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Sometimes meditation rubs your nose in painful but ultimately helpful truths.

Inescapable realities:

  • Your mind talks rubbish: anyone who tries to focus on their breath for five minutes knows this.

  • You’re insatiable: have you had enough food, sex, praise, comfort, holidays? Has anyone?

  • Because everything changes, you can’t rely on anything.

  • Your chimp-based evolution has wired your brain to see threats everywhere.

  • You’re going to die (okay, meditation doesn’t show you this directly but it’s true anyway).

You were shielded from most of these certainties when you were young but if you ignore them when you’re an adult you’ll create problems for yourself.

Gimmie the numbing distractions!

Popular methods for avoiding awkward truths include: working too hard,  taking drugs, over exercising, procrastinating, pornography, self-loathing and checking your phone every two minutes.

Meditation removes some distractions so you are gently forced to see how things really are. This can be daunting but sometimes your coping methods cause more problems than facing the truths themselves. Late night drinking to avoid the fact that you chose the wrong career might be causing you more difficulties than actually changing your job.

Of course in many ways drinking will seem like a much more fun option than acknowledging that you’ve wasted time in a job you don’t like.

But before you throw your meditation cushion in the skip…

Remember you can only deal with something if you acknowledge it exists in the first place.

When you accept How Things Actually Are it will be much easier to find a happier way to solve your problems. In the same way you don’t become furious at gravity when you fall off a ladder, accepting that life is a bit shit sometimes, helps you come up with better solutions.

You can also take comfort in the fact that everyone you know, and will ever know, also has to deal with the same crap. It might even bring you closer together.

Meditation can feel a little brutal sometimes but life is tricky enough without deceiving yourself.

meditation, not being a twat

Be Kind To Yourself When You Meditate, You Numpty!

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If you’re not being nice to yourself, you’re flipping well doing it wrong!

There are great skills to learn from meditation: the ability to concentrate, emotional calming techniques, equanimity and how to flap your ears (kidding!) But if you try any of these without being kind to yourself you have missed the point. Because we’re all really good at beating ourselves up, most of us become easily annoyed or disenchanted with our efforts. Even monks who’ve been at it for 30 years get cheesed off sometimes.

But here’s one of the nice things about meditation – there is no doing it wrong. 

Just noticing that you’re distracted is meditation gold. Getting to know how your mind works is what it’s all about. When you appreciate how downright bonkers it is in there, you are in a better position to deal with what’s going on with some grace.

You’re not alone if think if your meditation would go a lot better if your mind would just shut up at your command. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that, but the chatter will settle down eventually if you keep realising you’ve got distracted and refocus your attention. It’s important that the noticing should be done with some kindness, or at least a sense of humour at how crazy your mind is!

If you want to be kind to yourself during your mediation, here are some suggestions…

  • Actually allow yourself five minutes to meditate.

  • Are your shoulders up by your ears? drop ’em cowboy.

  • If you feel a bit strung-out or anxious just accept it and lower your expectation that you should be calmer.

  • Put a sock under your ankle if it hurts a bit when you sit.

  • Don’t hurl insults at yourself when you get distracted.

  • Smile when you hear yourself grumbling.

  • Have a cup of tea after.