I like to study different styles of meditation and different teachers.  I just finished “An Open Heart” by the one and only Dalai Lama and it really stuck with me.  I think I finally understood that dizzying existential concept that I have read and heard for so many years that “everything is an illusion”!  Statements like, “My Mind is Made Up” or “I Made Up my mind” suddenly took on a whole new meaning.  His Holiness the DL, talks a lot about how when we practice the skills of meditation we can’t help but to take a closer look at how our minds function.  He calls this ‘analysis’, and he says without it we would completely forget ourselves, our very existence.  Well driving down the road or cooking dinner it seems useful to have a mind, made up or not.  But for the purposes of creating more space, more peace of mind, it all really fell into place.

 

In this wonderful book there is a two-fold practice for meditation that is easy to follow.  One is called Object Meditation, the practice of observing whatever we choose to place our attention on.  When we practice doing this, we will immediately see how our mind wanders off.  The more we practice the longer periods of time we are able to sustain our attention to something simple and in the moment.  This in and of it self is very relaxing and you could stop here.  BUT that darn busy mind doesn’t want to be forgotten so it interrupts our reverie.  Here is where the second part comes in, Mindfulness. This is where we learn to catch ourselves straying into the thousand streams of thought that are always going on in our unconscious minds.  Once we have captured them, like catching a butterfly in a net, we gently return to the object of our attention.  Boom!! Simple right!!

 

Well now we get down to the analysis part, the illusion part…if you want to go deeper of course.  During the transition from Mindfulness, where you have just caught yourself wandering off, and back to the object of focus, your breath, or music or the sensations in your hands, there is a brief moment where you can see the “nature” of your thoughts; past, future, negative, positive, creative, destructive.  And as you begin to analyze how your mind tends to wander off from the present moment where nothing but peace and space reside, you see that you are making it ALL up!!  Everything in your mind in that moment is MADE UP!!!  It isn’t happening in the moment, it is just a replay of the past or a projection into the future.  If you can give yourself permission to NOT make things up but to expand your attention to each unfolding moment…well the possibilities seem endless!! 

The Practice:

 

Sit comfortably, lengthening your spine and the back of your neck by lowering your chin slightly.  Let your hands rest on your thighs and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth!

Now let the breath find its own rhythm and label your inhale and exhale silently as you begin to let go of the wandering mind and focus your attention on the object of your breathing pattern.  You can scan the body from head to toe, or toe to head, silently labeling body parts or sensations as well.  What ever you choose to place your attention on for this practice, stick with it for the entire practice and you can try something different each time you “sit”! 

As your mind relaxes it also passes through a sort of doorway of boredom and it wants to stir things up, so it wanders to and fro, touching a thousand different subjects.  When you catch yourself (gently now!), you can silently label it “thinking” or “wandering mind” and return to the object of your meditation.

 

Do this for 18 minutes if you can and at the end do a little journaling about what you discovered about your mind.  Try it for a week and start to see the patterns!  Is your Mind Made Up?? 

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