Thursday, November 19, 2009

Staying tactics

It struck me last week that most of my meditation practice is about learning ways to stay with whatever physical sensation, thought, or emotion is presenting itself in the moment. I don't do a lot of meditation where I concentrate on a single sensation, such as my breath.  Most of what I'm doing is just showing up for the moment - being present. I think, in Buddhism, this would be called more a mindfulness meditation practice than a concentration practice.
Over the last few years I've developed some different techniques that help me to stay with what's happening.  The interesting thing about these techniques - which could involve words or images - is that they change all the time. Maybe for a week or so, I repeat one phrase - 'yes, this is really happening' - to help me stay with difficult thoughts or feelings. Then I listen to a meditation podcast and hear another phrase which resonates with me and I find myself saying - 'this feeling is difficult, but somewhere it has meaning for my life.'
At first, when I noticed that I was changing my little 'staying tactics' every few weeks I was a bit concerned.  'Don't I have to have steadiness in my practice?' I thought. 'Shouldn't I just be saying the one thing, and not jumping around all over the place?'  I thought this was yet another example of my impatient, easily bored mind.
Then I saw the bigger picture - that my little techniques might change, but what I was using them for wasn't changing. I was using them to deepen my ability to stay, and that ability was slowly becoming steadier, and deeper, and richer.  I could see that sometimes I needed the simplicity of just one word to try to stay with a feeling - 'yes, yes' - and sometimes I needed some support from outside myself -  perhaps the image of a kind person placing their hand on my arm and saying 'yes, this is difficult...just try to stay.'
It was good to see that there was some pattern, and some progression, in my practice. It was also comforting to just start trusting my intuition about what might help me stay present at a particular time - and to recognise that I do have some internal wisdom that helps guide me in this practice (however much I might second-guess that wisdom at times!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...