Great seeing some of you last night! It is always interesting to break from the day’s busy distractions to sit quietly with the intention to simply observe our experience. Often times this can have a restorative effect, bringing clarity and peace to our otherwise frantic minds.
As human beings, it is very natural for us to try and make sense of and control our experience by rationalizing and categorizing, defining certain behaviors and thoughts as good or bad, productive or unproductive. We imagine ourselves a certain ‘type’, grouped with others who also fit this mold, always separate from those who appear different.
Of course, this isn’t bad (or good), it is simply the mind behaving as it sees fit. It does become problematic however, when we begin to believe these stories to be true—the stronger our conviction, the sharper the division, the tighter and more restrictive the mold.
Through my regular and dedicated meditation practice I have come to see how this mental behavior plays out and how it causes suffering in my life.
When I take the time to observe the quality of my essential experience, I notice this profound hardness or pressure in my body, an unwillingness or inability to advance. I describe it as a wall directly in front of me, pressing on my chest and face, like being pressed against a glass window—rather uncomfortable.
As I sit quietly, I try to see what this solid presence is about and what is my relationship to it. I see there is a sense of holding back, a primal effort to remain separate from what is harmful, to protect the soft vulnerable ‘self’. I see on one side of this barrier is that which is good, productive, beneficial and on the other side those harmful, bad things. ‘I’ occupy one side while the ‘other’ remains separate.
I can easily recognize, as I’m sure many of you can, that these mental tendencies are not very helpful, and in fact, are usually counterproductive. The constant chatter of the mind and habitual thinking clouds our judgment and makes us less alert. Our fear of abandonment and greedy affections can push others away. But of course, to resist and attempt to control our thoughts is to dive blindly back into the cycle of reactivity.
It seems like sort of a catch-22, I know. But next time you notice your mind caught in the process of labeling and categorizing, imagining yourself talented in this way or lacking in that, allied with this group and at odds with that one, you might simply ask yourself, what is this about? What am I believing about myself and others? Is it true? Do we actually fit perfectly within this mold, or does it seem always a little forced? Maybe I am ready to drop this belief; or maybe not just yet. And see if what ever you uncover during this inquiry can be received and accepted just as it is.
Always a pleasure to sit and share with all of you. Hope to see you next Tuesday.