There is quite a bit out there about how to start a meditation practice and what benefits to expect – plenty of teachers, articles, videos, apps and advice. We are told it can be transformative. But the hows and whys and what exactly to do can remain a bit elusive. We don’t always know when it is working or why it can be so difficult to stick with it.
Meditation instructions are actually fairly basic. Rest your attention on your breath, notice what occurs. Pay attention to your experience, let it be as you find it.
So why is it often so hard to remember to do this?
Our minds aren’t built to work that way – and by “mind” I mean us, the amalgamation of sensation, emotion, thought and ever so much more that comprises our human experience. Our biology demands we avoid pain and seek pleasure. Our developmental conditioning teaches us to fear things that have long since stopped happening. Our thoughts race and anticipate the future because this is how careers (and civilizations) are built. We have to think quickly, be distracted, react before we even know we are.
There is a lot to overcome in learning to sit still and quietly observe ourselves.
So then why is meditation so transformative?
Something else is going on as well as the distraction and distress, something that makes keeping with this practice worth it. Available within us is an unbelievably still, patient and aware presence. It is just as natural, just as real, as our distractions and distress. It is not something we have to create but something that already exists, waiting for us to get to know it, to realize that this is also who we are.
When we take notice of our experience and let it be as it is, this presence slowly and mysteriously begins to show it itself – perhaps in glimpses of effortless compassion or unexpected moments of peace. The more we experience this stillness and depth the more access we have to our own awake and grounded qualities. The suffering of our daily life begins to bother us less. We relax our inner battles and begin to notice the beauty and aliveness of our human experience.
This is how meditation changes us.
Join Aaron Crowe on Wednesday evenings at 7pm for Being and Becoming Meditation Class.