“To have intelligence there must be freedom, and you cannot be free if you are constantly being urged to become like some hero, for then the hero is important and not you.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
Once upon a time, long before the internet or anything such as “search engines”, I began to sit in meditation. At that time, there were few resources and certainly no meditation teachers or Zen centers in the small Midwestern town I grew up in.
This was about the time in the late 70s that Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein were just starting to build The Insight Meditation Society, in Massachusetts. Word of their work wouldn’t become widely known for quite a few more years. What little information I was able to find was deeply intriguing though and I continued to pursue my meditation earnestly.
While my intentions were pure, I have to look back and consider what I was doing could hardly qualify for meditation as we think of it today. Often times I fell asleep, or got lost in my field of daydreams that are inherent in every young girl.
“OM” was simply a weird noise to help me feel as if I were doing something productive. Rarely was this included in my activities as I dare not risk the ridicule I would be treated to if caught.
As the years passed, I was finally able to find formal meditation training and learn of this thing called “mindfulness”. While one doesn’t need training, it is unbelievably helpful and I will always cherish and I hold deep gratitude for my teachers and mentors.
I have also found that I can bring the topic up in polite company today without risking the stigma of being some sort of “hippy freak”. In fact, it seems to have become a most welcome topic to pursue in both professional and personal circles.
Ah, yes, times are changing. Information about meditation and mindful living is readily available simply by putting keywords into my favorite search engine. Keeping up to date on all the latest news and studies, along with reading and re-reading works by my favorites is a regular pastime that I pursue as avidly as I had back when there was so little to find.
What I’m ultimately learning is that with all this knowledge and many years of practice under my belt, I know less and less every day.
What I have learned…
“Om”, or “Aum” is more than just a word or pretty symbol. It’s a way of connecting to Source, the vibration from which all began.
Mindfulness and meditation are entirely separate.
I can be mindful while I meditate, and I can use meditation as the perfect tool to strengthen my capacity to remain aware in the present moment. Yet I can be mindful without meditation as well.
My mind will never be entirely still and that’s okay.
I was originally taught to simply observe my thoughts as a “witness” and gently refocus on my breathing. Today I point out my thoughts, and everything else I am able to notice, such as “I am thinking”, “I am breathing”, and “I am my nose that itches mercilessly”. The more I point out, the more my mind naturally quiets to see what else it is able to notice. I find much less resistance that way.
I no longer want to kill my ego.
While my ego will always be a challenge, with loving compassion, it is slowly transforming from a once horrible master into a wonderful servant. Its entire existence is to protect me, how can I want to fight with or kill that?
I can focus on my breath, or I can be my breath.
Focusing on my breath separates me while becoming my breath unites me. It may be a subtle difference, yet has profound meaning in my quest for connection.
I truly am my thoughts and feelings, yet I am so much more than that.
My thoughts and feelings come and go, instead of just allowing them to pass and attempting vigilantly to remain detached, I now allow them to sit with me and then pass without me chasing after them. As they feel validation this way, they are less likely to keep passing my way in the future.
There is no right or wrong way to be mindful or to meditate.
What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Learning everything possible, and throwing most of it away, allows me to find the path that serves me on the deepest levels.
I can continue to practice meditation and mindfulness, or I can live them.
The word practice alludes to an activity, it’s something to “go” and “do”. I don’t wish to continue working that hard. As my life becomes my practice, I can just “be”.
I will always be a beginner.
Every single breath is a brand new breath, just as every moment is brand new. I can never claim to be an expert over any of that.
In this is a most beautiful paradox, learning everything, yet knowing nothing. I feel I have left behind the training wheels of a beginner in regard to meditation and mindfulness. At the same time, I am free to begin all over again in each new moment. I leave an open invitation for all to forget everything and join me.