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