Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A brief meditation tip

Suppose you decide to pay attention to your breath. A few minutes (or seconds) later, you notice that you're daydreaming instead of paying attention. What's the difference in the latter state from the former? Two things:

(A) The content of your experience (or the aim of your attention). Before, it was the breath; now, it's random thoughts.

(B) The mode of your experience: you lost the sense of being aware what your mind is doing. In the former, you were paying attention to the breath and had the feeling (though not the thought) "this is what I'm paying attention to." In the latter, that sense has been lost.

Practice a few times until you notice that distinction. (A) is about attention, and (B) is about awareness, or that sense of knowing what's taking place in your experience.

Mindfulness meditation is largely about recovering the sense described in (B) whenever it's lost. You don't even have to hold on to it once it's recovered. Just relax a bit and it will hang around for at least a short time. Then, if you discover it missing again, just gently recover it (though you could say that the discovery is the recovery). Above all, don't scold yourself. Just appreciate the brief moments of presence.

With practice, the content of your experience (distinction A) becomes less and less important, and the effort of attention may be totally relaxed.

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