Follow up…Semantics Are Everything.

As the saying goes, if I had a dollar for every time I said or thought, “I am terrible at meditation”, I might be rich, BUT I would still be locked in a story which would make the experience of a calm mind, ever elusive.  So despite monetary riches, I would not perhaps not be as happy as I could be. 

If we check, the way we think about things, especially ourselves, determines our experiences.   

The fulfilment of a lot of our wishes often remains obstructed, not so much because of external circumstances, but because the ways in which we mentally and verbally describe ourselves, prevent us from having success. 

Because our minds create our realities, it is imperative to stop identifying with statements that are the antithesis of that for which we are wishing, and to start identifying with statements that reflect what we want.  Every time we repeat new mental, verbal or physical behaviours, we create and then strengthen new neuropathways in our brains. 

Emotions, habits and creative thinking are part of the subconscious mind.  Stories and feelings go hand in hand, for better and for worse. We deserve to create a new inner narrative, but we deserve to be selective in how we do it. 

The subconscious mind does not “hear” negating words, words like NEVER, NOT, WON’T.

For example, the sentences “I won’t go to bed late”, and “I choose an early bed time”, essentially mean the same thing.  However, they each make very different impressions on the emotional, habitual mind.  The former repeats the current status; the latter creates an image of what is desired.  When shifting inner mantras, we want to consider this distinction. 

Back to my relationship with meditation, and specifically, to one of the obstructions to meditative experiences, I created for myself: I believed the thought that said, “My mind is too ordinary for meditation.”

Meditation has been around for thousands of years.  Given the fickleness of human nature, I believe if there was no merit or value in the teachings, they would have gone extinct long ago, rather than having been passed down through teacher-disciple lineages up to the present day. 

I am by no means an expert, but all the meditation traditions I’ve come across, seem to share  an underlying view of human consciousness or mind: The nature of the mind is peaceful, and the human mind has limitless capacity to evolve. 

I have heard this theory for a long time.  I have nodded my head with inspiration and shared the idea with others many times.  However, in the beginning, I did not truly believe this idea applied to ME, Meredith Brown, who grew up in Southwestern Ontario.  Growing up, no one held this mirror up; no one spoke these ideas at all.

Even after encountering these ideas reading yoga books in my bedroom in my teens, and even after a trip to India in my early twenties,  for a long time, I did not really identify with the idea that my mind had the basic potential to be peaceful, let alone the limitless potential to experience the ultimate peace of full enlightenment.  My story was one of obstruction rather than of possibility:  My mind IS distracted.  My mind IS dull.  My mind IS anxious, etc. 

Meditation is described as a method to enable us to identify with the actual peaceful nature of the mind.  Wherever we are on the spectrum of wishing to find peace, from wishing for basic stress reduction all the way to wishing for omniscience, meditation is the methodology we use to change the habits of our minds and achieve these goals. 

I once attended meditation talk, where the teacher held up a glass of water and began to swirl it in a way that made the water splash messily.  He asked the audience to imagine how ludicrous it would be to wish the splashing would stop while continuing to swirl the glass. He said if we really wished for the splashing to stop, all we would have to do would be to LET GO, set the glass down, and the water would return to its natural state of STILLNESS. 

He went on to say, (summing it up as best I can) we kind of relate to our minds in the same way. We wish to be peaceful, we wish to be confident, we wish to be happy, we wish to be calm (etc.) but we hang on to and keep identifying with STORIES that only serve to swirl up the gross levels of the mind, generating the feelings of stress, insecurity, sadness and anxiety from which we all long to have freedom. 

If we can just LET GO of the habit of believing in, focusing on (with single-pointed concentration, I might add), and identifying with, untruthful  thoughts that generate all the pain… the mind will return to its natural state, which is PEACEFUL. 

This demonstration made a profound impact on me.  THE PEACE IS ALREADY THERE.  It sunk in.  He’s talking about MY mind too.  YOUR mind too.  Everyone’s mind…

Flexibility of MIND is so important.  Way more important than anything to do with physical flexibility.  (Plus the former will improve the latter just naturally…)  We need it so we can mentally entertain the idea of a different way of thinking, and therefore a different way of experiencing ourselves, and ultimately what we perceive to be the external world.  We need flexibility to realize that just because a thought arises, does not mean it is true, or that we have to identify with it. 

Can we be flexible enough to entertain these idea for ourselves…so that we can actually experience something in meditation?  Can we be flexible enough to at least test out the theory and see if we can prove for ourselves that meditation reveals the naturally peaceful states of our minds?

For me, I just got bored of the status quo.  Did I really want to spend the rest of my life settling for unpredictable happiness and falling for the illusion that the quality of my experience was determined by external factors? No.  Not any more. 

Choosing to LET GO of the habit of identifying myself as an inherently anxious, terribly meditator became mandatory.   Choosing to LET GO of the habit of negative self-talk, has finally allowed me to take my teachers’ beautiful descriptions of meditation as personal advice, and experience the benefits for myself.  After all, I can’t be a calm, anxious person in the same moment.  I have to choose.  More and more often, I choose to LET GO. xo

I Used to Dread Meditation

Meditation and me. Not always the best of friends… to say the least. When I first encountered meditation, I could barely close my eyes without feeling instantly overwhelmed. It’s taken me, and I’m not kidding, almost two decades to crave it. I asked a beloved teacher once, “I wonder when all my crazy mental habits will subside, so I can really start a meditation practice?” She looked at me and said, “The mental stuff IS the practice.” If one felt peaceful all the time, one wouldn’t need meditation anymore. Meditation is THE tool to help us bring our minds back to their naturally peaceful states. Try this: 1. Sit comfortably 2. Close your eyes or rest your relaxed gaze at a spot nearby 3. Wish to take a break from focusing on all the stories that make your mind swirl 4. Instead, focus on the sensation of the air moving through your nostrils… it will feel cool during the inhale and warm during the exhale 5. Bring your mind back to the cool/warm when it wanders off into stories. Theory goes… the longer your attention is held by the breath, a natural peace arises from within. 6. Identify with any calm you discover. It will give you a new “normal” and a reference point for when stories swirl your mind again. You will feel confident in your capacity to return to calm by repeating steps one through five. 7. Dedicate the energy of your practice to the benefit of others 8. Repeat daily, with faith that if I can do it, you can too. Xo 🙏🏻💘 #SoGladIDidntGiveUp #WishpathYoga #Kadampa

#GesheKelsangGyatsoRinpoche #PSMayTheForceBeWithYou 

Your Mind Is Like Clear Blue Sky

In Buddhism, the mind is likened to clear blue sky, thoughts and feelings to clouds, and breath, to the wind. The blue sky is constant. Storms come and go. In the middle of storms, it is hard to remember the sky is still there. The sun too. But clouds and storms are always moving and transforming and eventually they dissipate completely. Xo #BeTheSky #ThisTooShallPass#CloudsClearingAndImStillHere💎☀️ 💨☁️ ☀️💎

The Light Always Returns

After difficult times, one can be left feeling a bit lost in the residual darkness. Seeing these tiny flowers beginning to emerge from the cold, winter soil, reminds me that the light always returns. Even though we are sometimes unaware of the how and the when, things are always still moving and transforming. Then the right conditions come together, and new beauty and opportunities manifest and blossom. May your heart be warm and light and open to all good things. Xo #Spring#NewBeginnings #Light

“Your New Life Is Going To Cost You Your Old One”

I love this. We die and are reborn in every moment. One identifies many times each moment with the ever changing basis of one’s body and mind. Nothing is permanent. Through the power of intention, we can start to direct the process of change toward what we actually want. We will hit forks in the road where we have to choose between the old and the new. Because they often are mutually exclusive experiences and therefore can not exist simultaneously, we have to choose. The strongest wishes will win out. And thus one’s life unfolds. Xo 💘🙏🏻 Repost from @turningofthetide

New Minute Resolutions

Personally, I prefer new day’s resolution, or new afternoon’s resolution, or for that matter, new hour’s resolution. It is an easier practice of mindfulness for me. Over a shorter span of time, I can accumulate small triumphs, that gradually grow into big ones. When I stumble, I know I can start afresh in the next hour, or minute, and not have to wait a whole year to begin anew. Xo#WishpathHypnotherapy#EverythingBeginsAsAWish 

Humanness

Being human is MESSY!! It is humbling to see one’s own shadow, but we can’t grow without knowing it intimately. Svadhyaya is the yoga Niyama of self-study. When we practice Satya, or truthfulness with ourselves, we can hold a more empathetic, loving and patient space for others. Xo 🙏🏻💘

Truths

Thoughts create our realities and are the causes of all the physical and verbal actions we take. Given that most of us aren’t totally sure what exactly thoughts even are…. It is always amazing to me how much authority we give the thoughts and beliefs that float through our own minds.  We assume they are correct without even knowing what they are. We use our minds to learn about everything, but understand very little about the mind itself.  If there was a reality separate from mind, it would be experienced the same way by everyone.  More than ever now, I take it as a great personal responsibility to watch my own mind for assumptions, prejudice and hate in all its gross to subtle aspects. It is the only thing over which I can have any control, and perhaps one of the ways I can improve the quality of my little corner of the universe. In general, if thoughts or beliefs drive actions motivated for the happiness of self and others, I think they are the closest ones to any sort of truth. Xo

Fork In The Road

Fork In the Road

I have energetic holding patterns, in my mind and in my body, that are familiar. I have a strong sense of self generated in relation to these holding patterns. I create my ME with a story that runs through my mind on repeat, and that sometimes spills out of my mouth as words that I use to describe myself to others.
This story effects how I stand and how I breathe, how I make choices, and how I experience the world around me.
Some parts of the story, others gave to me long ago, before I new how to filter and decide my own truths. Other parts of the story I created myself.
These mental and physical habits are easy to remember and I find it effortless to collapse back into them. Through repetition and familiarity they are my default. They are my normal.
Then I read books and hear new, inspiring ideas about healthier, happier mental and physical habits and I light up briefly inside, thinking, “YES, that is who I want to be”.
Trouble is, I feel great internal resistance to letting go of the old and therefore being able to experience the new.
The momentum of the old feels so solid and so real and so POWERFUL. Those energetic mental and physical habits feel like what is real and the new, just like someone else’s nice idea. Someone else’s possibilities and good fortune.
So sometimes I feel stuck at this fork in the road between who I am now and who I would like to be. Because, I can’t be both the old and the new at the same time. I can’t stand up straight and slouch at the same time. I can’t be patient and impatient at the same time. I can’t binge eat and eat mindfully at the same time. I can’t be worthless and worthy at the same time. I can’t be mundane and enlightened at the same time. Etc….
Eventually I have to choose between the two stories, between the two versions of ME. I have to decide, to which thoughts I am going to listen, and which thoughts I am going to shut down.
I have to change the story, because the story is everything.
If I continually recite the old story, I can’t be anything else. However much I want to be a calm person, if I continually recite “I am an anxious person”, to myself and to everyone I meet, I can not be anything other than an anxious person.
Some days, affirmations feel good to recite. Other days, they get completely shut down internally by the old stories saying, “No way…that’s not YOU.”
So for now, I am trying to change the story, the internal descriptors of my ME, to words which describe the transition phase I am in, rather than affirmations describing the positive endpoints that don’t yet feel authentic. “I am learning patience” vs “I have perfect patience.”
I have to be sly sometimes and subtle, so my old habits don’t get too riled up and shut the whole thing down.
The thing is, the thoughts aren’t as solid or strong as they seem. They seem like sound vibrations only, nothing solid at all. To be honest, I don’t really even know what thoughts actually are. Why then, do I give them so much authority? They come to life only when I identify with them.
By interrupting the old narrative when it arises, whenever I am able, I syphon away some of the energy supporting it, and I offer it to a new narrative. In those moments, a new ME emerges in my mind. Because this new me is based on transition and evolution, there is a feeling of energy moving again, instead of energy feeling stuck and locked in the old patterns.
Each time I do this, I take a step down the other fork in the road. I test it out, see if it feels better. I prove the new, through the improved quality of my own experience. I prove the new thoughts are safe and reliable and heaven forbid, joy-inducing. I create a new default, a new normal.
Now slouching doesn’t feel like what is comfortable anymore. Now mistakes are allowed and there is flexibility and there are options. I have found a new normal. I find more and more comfort and relief from healthy choices rather than relying on numbness and distraction as coping mechanisms. I breathe deeper. I say, “This is me.”
Of course, I still default to the old, familiar fork in the road and try to ignore that any other option exists, but I can’t escape the knowing of my own experience. The new fork waits patiently for me to try it out again. Each time I venture along it, it feels more and more familiar and easier to get to. Even a brief, momentary absence of the old me, sets off ripples and waves, sometimes tsunamis through my mind and presents endless possibilities of all that I can accomplish.
I often need help from others, family, friends, counsellors, teachers, to get back on to this other path, but ultimately the choice is always mine. The stronger choice or wish will always win out.
My mind can’t hold opposite ideas at the same time.
I imagine how amazing it must feel to become so familiar with the new mental and physical energetic holding patterns, that they become what is habitual, and easy to remember, and effortless. Through repetition and familiarity they are becoming the default. They are becoming the normal. An old story growing dim. A new story growing louder. A new me arises.