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Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Awareness Matters

Mindfulness is a term that those even casually acquainted with meditation are familiar with. It's a concept that's been around for thousands of years and had made its way to the West with great flair.  It's at the heart of a lot of practices seeking to reduce stress and enhance calm relaxation.

But there's another, deeper reason for mindfulness, and that's the kind of acceptance and awareness that comes with it.  Begin to sit quietly with yourself, and non-judgmentally observe what arises in your thoughts and feelings, and you'll see it isn't all about calm relaxation.  Seriously - go ahead and do it.  Sit with yourself and see what comes up.

For a lot of us, there are thoughts and feelings we've put aside or hidden for one good reason or another, and to try now to accept them, without judgement or fear or even concern?  Not so easy to do.  We hide from ourselves for very good reasons.  Because there are consequences to acknowledging how we are thinking and feeling, especially if we follow those thoughts and feelings to their logical conclusions and see that they are asking for some kind of change.

What if, in the back of my mind, I know I'm unhappy with my (job, marriage, kids, house, weight, friends...), and now that I'm sitting without distraction, it's apparent that I've been avoiding dealing with my discontent?  Well -what if?  Awareness is the first step in transformation, and the second is acknowledgement.

But the wonderful thing about the meditative process is that it's not boot camp.  It's not forcing you to jump into judgement OR action, to suddenly find the solution to the problem that you've only just become aware of, and have maybe, for the first time, actually acknowledged.

Meditation says sit with yourself, sit with your discontent, sit with G*d, offer it up, and see what comes back.  Do you need to take action?  Do you need to do something?  Or maybe, just in this moment, you keep sitting with yourself, getting used to this level of insight and honesty, and just letting what's been hidden emerge before you have to do anything to fix it.

Try it.  For a minute or two or 10 or 20.  Maybe happy, easy thoughts and feelings will emerge, and it will be easy to know what to do about them.  But give yourself the freedom to move into awareness, and get to know yourself deeply.  Take your time.  The best reason to slow your thoughts is so that you don't miss the important stuff.   Don't just empty your mind.  Explore it, and learn to know it and have some compassion for yourself, and you won't be sorry for a single minute you spend this way. 

1 comment:

  1. This is very timely for me. Just last night I was sitting in meditation with my thoughts, and it wasn't fun at all. I kept feeling like I had to do something about it -- clear or release whatever was there. Thanks for the reminder that I can sit with it without having to solve anything.