An Act of Kindness- A Shelter from the Storm.
Dear friends and fellow meditators,
Have you ever been caught in a rain of negative arrows coming from your own mind, so thick it just feels like one dark cloud? At those times, our minds are so caught we feel, It's impossible to meditate. Let's explore ways that meditation can actually be a shelter from that storm till it inevitably passes.
Here's one possible scene: You wake up, full of restless energy. You sit to meditate and can’t follow your breath, or repeat a mantra. You eventually give up and feel worse, having missed your morning meditation.
What happened? We’ve set up an opposition, a conflict between what’s going on—I feel shitty— and what we think we need to do now: “meditate.”
One remedy is to change our concept of meditation. The great Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, reputedly said, “Meditation is not meditating on something, rather it is familiarizing ourselves with the nature of mind.”
To put this in practice when you sit to meditate, you can just sit and listen. Be attentive. Listen to each thought clearly, not with your mind elsewhere, saying, “I should be meditating” but with full attention. This thought: “I’m not good enough”, this thought: “Who do you think you are…” etc. Don’t negate or push them away. Just let them be there. You are the witness.
Something wonderous happens.
The most inspiring example of what might happen is the story that is told about the Buddha. At he neared enlightenment, Mara, the demon, kept coming in disguises to move him from his state. Mara was disguised as anger, lust, etc. With each appearance, the Buddha touched the ground and declared, “I know you, Mara.” And the form of Mara would disappear. The Buddha's enlightened state became unshakeable.
We too can name our thoughts, and declare, 'I know you, lack of self worth. I know you, self-righteousness...'
What does it take to do this? We start wtih the understanding and conviction that the nature of mind is pure, unborn, free, and enlightened. We have confidence in our true nature. We are sentient beings. Our nature has been and always will be enlightened, even if we don’t see it. All the expressions of our nature are likewise enlightened. We hold the inner conviction that even at the level of mental thoughts, everything already is enlightened.
This ability to sit in the midst of our worst thoughts is the greatest act of kindness, creating a shelter from our own inner storms.
Here’s a practice you can try:
As you sit to meditate, bring to mind someone who represents kindness and compassion to you. It can be someone you know personally or a kind and compassionate teacher who is no longer alive. Envision yourself being sheltered by this kind figure. Feel their kindness and compassion surrounding you like a shield, inside and out. Place their presence in your heart, and let the arrows of your thoughts bounce off of their protecting energy.
No judgment, no running away, just sit.
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