Intro: the laser light show
Many of us find our day is a series of one important ‘thought flash’ after another. Remembering to dos, meeting daily deadlines, giving eye contact instead of attention to loved ones, and even foregoing personal maintenance in favor of so many important issues tugging at our attention.
It’s a laser light show of bulletins, memos, news, and reports. The competing demands cloud the reasons we originally embarked on the roller coaster ride. We either forget or we remind ourselves with a mental post-it note that distills important needs into a couple of words.
I don’t think this is just my experience. I see it in almost every face.
How Can We Stop?
We should stop and we can! But how?
First, we must acknowledge that our minds are always flashing messages onto our mental screen.
This is the Instagram Stories type of programing our mind is continuously indulged in. It is a never-ending reel of messages that loops constantly. It compares, judges, frightens, promises, fantasizes, plans, and so much more.
There is constant chatter. Internally this ceaseless stream frightens and amuses us but also allows us to avoid deeper experiences. We cannot access these deeper terrains if we stay distracted by thought fragments.
The good news is that we don’t have to move to another job, change our contacts, or invent a different daily routine, although that may happen organically.
All we have to do is commit to a very brief period of time daily to connect to the basic nature within us. Once we begin to learn how to label and drop mind chatter without judgment, we can experience new peace, warmth, and clarity, and it can happen very quickly.
Meditation teaches us a valuable skill.
There are many styles of meditation, and they include rumination, guided visualization, reflection, and directed thought. Prayer can be meditation.
In this post and the companion PDF, we will examine meditation from South Asia region of Tibet, Thailand, and India. This meditation is frequently referred to as “insight meditation” or vipassana.
Sit in a comfortable position. You may sit in a chair, on the floor on a cushion with your legs crossed, or perch on the edge of a bed. If there are others around you, explain that you are going to sit quietly and do not want to be interrupted for a brief period of time.
Sit in a comfortable position. You may sit in a chair, on the floor on a cushion with your legs crossed, or perch on the edge of a bed.
If there are others around you, explain that you are going to sit quietly and do not want to be interrupted for a brief period of time.
Set a timer Start out with 3-5 minutes initially. As you become accustomed to sitting, extend the time. Aim for 20 minutes. That is enough time to reap fantastic benefits over the days, weeks, months, and years.
Close your eyes to cut out visual distraction and begin to take note of your breathing – in and out -- at your nostrils. Your mind will instantly try to describe what you are doing. Thoughts will try to control your breath or introduce any subject other than this point of attention. Watch as the mind tries to wiggle out of focusing on the breath.
The mind will distract you with thoughts, some serious and some silly, but every time you become aware of a thought or emotion, label it as a “thought” or “emotion” and return to the nose and breath.
Thoughts that pop up inside our heads can be anything but quiet. They can be loud and argumentative, sometimes yelling or otherwise clamoring for attention. You’ll notice cries of self-pity or whimpering to disrupt your quietude and focus. These little thought-tyrants will demand you stop sitting and go do something now, like work on world peace.
The mind can be insistent, creative, and childlike. Whether these pleas for attention have an agenda or not, we have to understand that they are merely mental constructs hopping around to distract you.
This is when you realize that whether or not you have a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), your mind can bring you into the impulsive world of attention seeking thoughts and fragments of ideas. They need to be acknowledged by simply labeling them as a thought, then dropped without analysis.
Your lesson and your practice: learning to recognize the habitually busy mind-circus as just a thought that can be dropped without reaction. Don’t worry, anything important will come back when you are able to deal with it because your mind will be cleared of a lot of distracting chatter.
May All Beings Experience Peace
You need one more simple instruction.
Using the Buddhist meditation technique called metta meditation or loving kindness meditation, you extend heartfelt peace to yourself, first, then to others as a conscious application of kindness. This expands your intention to not be ruled by fleeting thoughts and emotions that are unkind.
Gentle calm can be felt when you become practiced.
Want to know more?
Click the button to receive the pdf Guide to Meditation to turn chaos into calm. It includes links for teachers and retreats, and virtual meditation groups you can join.