Does meditation make sense? Most of you have heard or perhaps even repeated some of these catch phrases that seem to have ascended to the realm of blind truths, like “Be in the Moment”, “Live in the Present”, “Be Here…Now”. Being the non-illuminated soul that I am… what do these expressions really mean to me and how do I practise them? How does meditation help me? Can I still live my normal life, fulfil my responsibilities, dreams and needs if I am just “being”? There is a lot more to this than one might imagine, so today I am going to introduce a simple exercise and inquiry that can open the conversation with ourselves.
My inquiry proposal is to ask ourselves what distracts us. What is your definition of a distraction? When you sit to relax or meditate and a fly is buzzing around you, do you consider the fly a distraction? What if the fly exists to teach you not to become distracted? If the fly is not the distraction, what is?
Take time to sit with these questions, without the need for an answer. Just see what comes up, before going on.
Now take that curiosity into the meditation. Our five senses will be the tools we use to observe our attention, which is our main power source.
When we sit to meditate, we are processing the information coming from our senses, and we are processing the information coming from our thoughts. When you take your attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations in your body, you are connected to the world around you and inside of you. You are here in the present moment, being. The loud banging of a door, the cries of a child, the heat or cold are all helping you stay here…they are NOT the distraction. The moment your mind begins to describe, analyse, or create a story about these, your attention takes you away from the reality and to the place of the mind and your thoughts. In this place you are disconnected from others, your surroundings and from feeling your body’s sensations. In other words, you are not here, you are not present, you are not being. You are distracted.
The work is in observing where you place your attention. When you see your attention directed towards the story, gently return to the five senses. It may take a long time, and the story may have many chapters, when you realise that your attention was there so long. Don’t worry, be happy that you noticed and bring the attention back to your five senses. I always visualise this process like teaching a dog to heel (walk by your side). The dog strays and you gently pull it back to your side. After a certain amount of time this straying occurs less and for shorter periods. Our mind strays and at first it can take a long time to notice, but after practice we catch it sooner and bring it back to the moment for longer periods of time.
After a time, you will begin to notice how wrapped up in the story you become in your everyday life, with family, work etc. Once you can use your attention to come back to reality and let go of the stories that are distracting you, you are truly freeing yourself from what I like to call my “inner politician”, who loves to create problems where there wasn’t one, in order to feel needed by solving it! We’ll save that for another day.
Enjoy observing your distractions and enjoy the reality with all of its clever ways to reminds us to be here…now.