Monday, August 29, 2011
By Lawrence Grecco
If you are experiencing just 1 of these symptoms, you can be sure that your mediation practice is off to a good start:
1. You are getting overwhelmed with heavy thoughts and emotions.
Excellent news! It means your practice is working and you are becoming more and more aware of how your mind works. This often happens when a person is just beginning a meditation practice and they mistake it for a sign that it doesn’t really work. Au contraire,grasshopper...Remember, meditation isn’t about eradicating your thoughts, it’s about learning to be aware of how your thought process works so you no longer have to be so beholden to it. You’re not supposed to have an empty head all the time so let go of that idea and realize that whatever thoughts you are having are simply an incredible expression of your mind and it’s vast capabilities (even though it sometimes resembles a horror film).
2. When you are angry, you don’t always react right away.
If even once in a while you find yourself pausing before reacting by acting out the way you normally do, you’re on the road to changing your relationship to this poisonous state. Anger has a way of convincing us that we have to do something immediately because it is such a compelling emotion. In reality by letting anger take us over, it’s as if we are holding onto hot coals that we want to throw at someone--and we’re the one who gets burned (thanks, Siddharta!). Letting anger control our actions does nothing but reinforce that feeling within us which brings about unhappiness for ourselves and other people.
3. You have a little more perspective.
When we take the time to sit quietly with some degree of regularity (even 10 minutes a day for 5 days a week) it’s as if we move from a small 350 square foot studio apartment to a 3,000 square foot loft space. Meditation gradually reveals the vastness of our minds so that the things that once used to bug the hell out of us no longer take up quite the same amount of room in our minds, or the same time and energy that they used to. Consider what it’s like to have 10 guests in a small studio and how loud and crowded they would seem there. If you put those same guests in a huge loft space they wouldn’t bother you as much. The same goes for difficult emotions, experiences, and circumstances--when they come up we have a larger container of awareness within our minds with which to handle them. The bigger the container, the less daunting they all seem.
4. You can hang out with things as they are instead of trying to change or “fix” them right away.
An uncomfortable situation arises and while you would normally want to flee or talk nervously or do whatever it is you used to do, you can now just be there and notice the awkwardness of things with the understanding that it’s only temporary. Or let’s say you’re bored but instead of texting or eating or shopping or smoking or turning on the TV you can just coexist with your boredom for a while. Meditation practice teaches us to sit with things as they are and to realize that things are quite fine just as they are, even though it doesn’t always appear that way.
5. You can be a little kinder to yourself and others.
You’re not as screwed up/awful/stupid/lazy/untalented/ugly/poor/worthless/foolish/immature/unlovable as you think you are. The Buddha often compared our true nature to that of a nugget of gold that’s been buried in the dirt for a long time. Even though your naturally spacious mind may be obscured by years of conditioning, experiences and limiting beliefs, it’s still there underneath all the grime. Over time as you practice, it’s like you are cleaning that chunk of gold off and every now and then a small part of it’s brilliance gets exposed so you get a glimpse of your inherent goodness. By understanding that you and all other people possess the same goodness, kindness naturally ensues. Just give it some time.