By Andrew Shykofsky
May 14, 2014
Learn to Meditate by Simply Observing what is on your Mind
Do you have compassion for yourself? The true spiritual approach to meditation starts with an attitude of softness. How so? Until one learns to meditate, life can seem quite rough. The mind is not a relaxing place when we never take deliberate time to stop and ‘check in’. In so doing, you may feel like there is so much mental activity that getting to even a fraction of stillness will never happen. But that is absolutely untrue.
There are many activities that can be called meditative. A friend of mine said he was painting his living room and in particular a banister. The amount of detail to doing a good job required intense focus and for 12 hours he labored. But he said his mind didn’t drift into typical stressful areas around work or family challenges. For him, that was a form of meditation.
Nothing wrong with that of course. But let’s talk about actual sitting down to meditate. When there is no activity available to capture your attention, that lack of stimulation can be quite a challenge. The mind longs for something to focus on. When you take that away, it stirs up all sorts of garbage to fill that void. If you never make an ally of your mind and learn to discipline it, it tends to take you on a wild ride. Meditation, if practiced consistently will soothe that very issue by you befriending the mind and steering its focus where you want it to be and not wherever the heck it pleases.
So how to meditate…you’ll see a lot of the teaching online about focusing on breath and moving to a place of stillness. Great stuff but try this. Sit down somewhere, close your eyes and pay attention to your thoughts. Just notice what is on your mind for a few minutes and try not to get irritated even if your thoughts are all over the place, redundant and speedy. Notice one particular thought and examine it. Begin the process of learning how to discern thoughts and what they are trying to communicate.
The mind is not the source of intelligence but the vehicle for intelligence to come through. So start dethroning your mind as this all powerful entity. It needs direction and it needs to be managed. Maybe even micro-managed. If you don’t like a particular thought, learn to literally terminate it. Other thoughts that seem redundant means your mind is looking for a resolution. So practice making a decision. And if a decision doesn’t solve the particular looping thought, then cut it off. Learn to stop a thought that is looping and leading to anxiety. You literally have to decide to empower yourself and stop that thought!
This practice of observing your mind and discerning the activity will begin a whole new approach to life. It’s a good start to meditation actually.
Teacher: Andrew Shykofsky