Continuing with Sally Armstrong’s talk, “The roles of mindfulness, metta and equanimity in our practice“, can you relate to this sentiment…
What we often see is our minds are messy. They are relentless. They never stop. Unless we do this deliberate turning towards presence, towards the body, towards simplicity.~ Sally Armstrong
Or perhaps you recognize some of the items on this list from Ted Weinstein…
Ways I Have Been a Bad Meditator~ Ted Weinstein
I have swallowed repeatedly.
I have thought about eating a piece of dark chocolate.
I have moved my leg because I couldn’t endure the pain in my knee.
I have wondered whether I left the oven on.
I have tried to slow my breathing.
I have looked at my watch before the meditation bell rang.
I have thought about whether to register for a retreat this coming summer.
I have thought about kissing the woman sitting on the cushion to my left.
I have thought about shushing the heavy-breathing man on the cushion to my right.
I have wanted the teacher to notice how well I am meditating.
I have wondered how the teacher can really meditate while constantly checking if it is time to ring the bell.
I have missed my old girlfriend.
I have remembered why I broke up with my old girlfriend.
I have thought I can’t date anyone who isn’t a meditator.
I have listened to the sound of the rain.
I have worried if I closed the windows of my car.
I have wondered if living in the moment means I don’t have to put money in a retirement account.
I have imagined going to Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize in Meditation.
I have thought about how my goddaughter laughs when I turn her upside down.
I have wanted this feeling of joy to continue.
I have focused on the rising and falling of my stomach while breathing when I was trying to focus on the sensation of my breath going in and out at my nostrils.
I have decided meditation retreats are a waste of time.
I have wanted to ring the bell at the end of the group sitting.
I have opened my eyes to look if the teacher’s eyes are open.
I have been annoyed at the bird outside that won’t stop cawing.
I have wondered whether it is time to buy a new meditation cushion.
I have thought about making up items for this list.
I have wondered if I could ever complete this list.
I have decided I will never achieve enlightenment.
I have told myself I am a bad meditator.
Sally invites us to “pay attention again and again and again – an intention to be present, to deepen the capacity to do that.” She talks of a “willingness to start again – ten thousand times… and to be happy that you even notice that you’re distracted, because that means you’re mindful again.”
Reflection: Sally says one of the things we cultivate through our practice is “a preference for stillness rather than distraction, simplicity rather than busyness.” She describes how retreat centers are often kept very simple and are in open spaces of nature, to invite us into presence. What are some ways you can create simplicity and openness and connection to nature in your practice?
Guided meditation: Here’s a 30-ish minute guided meditation from Mark Nunberg, that invites us to be open to whatever is present, which meshes well with what Sally was encouraging in her talk.
The first four minutes is the chanting of the The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness, which you can skip, or you might like to have that set an intention of kindness, or maybe even chant along!
Feel free to share your reflections or comments below, or by email.
With warm wishes,