Sep 1, 2014
Is it OK to use Your Mind While in Meditation? Yes and here are some things to think about…
The mind and meditation are often portrayed as enemies. The idea that is widely taught is that you must patiently and persistently strive to still your mind in order to relax and meditate. Personally, I disagree. What I do agree with is that the mind has to be trained to be cooperative during meditation so your sessions are meaningful. What is commonly referred to as ‘monkey mind’ where you are spinning out on mundane topics clouding your brain and draining your energy… well no one thinks that is particularly helpful.
Meditation can be active or passive meaning you can either meditate on something or else aim to sit while focusing on the rhythm of your breathing and keep your mind as empty as possible. The problem with the latter is that it drives people nuts. It is possible sometimes in the beginning to have a few sessions where the mind remains relatively calm. But when boredom sets in, it is likely the mind will ramp up again and drift all over the place.
For this reason, I teach the mind and meditation as a team. Meditation is the activity you choose by your will. Your desire is to relax and spend some quality time within yourself examining something in your life. And why do that? Because you can emerge from your session with new insights, greater clarity and a sense of peace that comes when you know what you need to do. Let’s walk through an example.
Let’s say you have been dating someone and you realize that you have very strong feelings for this person. Because you were heart broken in the past by someone you cared a lot about, you are anxious about being this vulnerable again and this anxiety is beginning to affect your behavior. Even though you are in love with your boyfriend, you catch yourself canceling plans and avoiding him somewhat which doesn’t make sense to you. You long to see him but at the same time, it’s as though you are pushing him away by becoming distant.
This is a topic that is ripe for meditation. If this person just continues along this path, they might end up sabotaging the relationship unconsciously and finding themselves heartbroken again. To avoid such an outcome, I recommend going into meditation and really taking a deep look at all the feelings that have been stirred up. This woman is anxious because she is afraid of getting hurt. She’s vulnerable to get hurt because she is invested in the relationship and loves her boyfriend. Step 1 is to see and accept all this information.
Next, she needs to examine what is true and what is projected. This is where meditation really helps one get clarity. In the case of past heart break, we often make the decision that love is not safe and so we seek to set up mechanisms to protect ourselves from possible future harm. The truth is that yes, love is risky because people can always change their minds and end things. But trying to prepare against such an outcome has the effect of drawing it to you with greater probability. The more mature person accepts the risk, does their best to give sincerely to their partner, pays attention to the signs of where things are at and in the event that things fall apart, relies on their meditation practice to process feelings, emotions and difficulties.
I would be pretty confident to say that the woman in our story has some concepts in her mind about love and what she deserves. Many people are wounded in this way and without a conscious understanding of how they do it, at some point when relationships progress and they fall in love, they often change their behavior and create problems that lead to a break up. Their boyfriends who have similar wounding also participate and when things approach certain intimacy levels, they freak out and do something funky to mess it up. Meditation is a great way to avoid these disasters.
Instead of just sitting quietly counting your breaths, you go into meditation and look carefully at your history in relationships. Examine the mind and meditation. What happens for you when you really begin to care for a romantic partner? Notice if there are patterns from your past. It is likely you will find that you do something odd once you really fall in love with your partner. A common problem is for people to suddenly become very dependent on their boyfriend once they are in love. This happens because the old wound of wanting to be taken care of is awakened and the woman turns to her man to become her father. Many men will reject this role and rightly so. (Men do it too by having their girlfriend become their mother).
The nuances of what goes on in each person are unique. If you find you do things that don’t make sense or else you are facing a situation where making a mistake will lead to big problems, use meditation to take a more objective look at everything with fresh eyes. Slowing things down and meditating on your life may prevent you from doing something you would later wish you hadn’t done. Even if nothing is out of the ordinary, it is an excellent habit to begin retrospecting your life while in a meditative state. You can be objective and notice your emotions without being immersed in them. Here are 10 areas that are prime as meditation topics;
1. Is there anything bothering me today as in anything that left me irritated, upset or outright angry. Let me take a look at what happened in meditation.
2. How are things going in my primary relationships (husband, wife, kids, parents, close friends, siblings)? Is anyone upset with me or do I feel unresolved with anyone? Do I need to speak my feelings to clear the air?
3. How is everything at my job? Am I harboring any negative emotions or fears? Do I feel happy about my future there or am I restless and wondering if it is time to consider a change?
4. What events are coming up in the next few weeks or months and am I on track with the needed preparation? Am I waiting until the last minute on things? Any patterns I am noticing that might lead to a bad outcome?
5. How do I see myself at this time in my life? Am I comfortable with how I am living. Am I striving to be the best I can and following through with diligent action?
6. Do I feel a deeper calling in my being to be more spiritual? What would that look like? I go to church… is it working for me? Am I longing for something else?
7. What do I love to do? Am I doing these things regularly or just keeping up to date on tasks and duties? Is my life fun and am I relaxed?
8. Am I aware of any health issues brewing that I have been trying to ignore? Should I do anything about it?
9. I have an idea for a new (business, book, meal, painting etc). How should I proceed to get things started?
10. I want to make a radical change in my life but I’m nervous about it. What am I afraid of and should I let those fears get in my way? Is there an approach I can take where I will be liberated?
Hopefully in reviewing these topics you will become inspired. There is so much benefit from taking a fresh, concentrated look within without the distractions of phones, TV and gossip magazines. Consider it your ally, the mind and meditation will take on a whole new exciting role in your life. Read this post for another perspective.