The “Right” Attitude for Meditation and Life

    We have many ideas about how life should be. These ideas come from our past life experiences, from stories we’re told, and from the culture we live in. We absorb ideas from our environment and use them as a lens through which we perceive our lives. We move through life comparing “what is going on” with ideas we have about what “should be” and we find ourselves and/or circumstances coming up short. This is a recipe for self-criticism, stress, and negative thinking.

    Most of this happens subconsciously. We are often not aware that we use ideas as measuring sticks for our lives and that it is our ideas about life that create frustration, negative thoughts and feelings, insecurity, and anxiety.

    Let’s use the experience of beginning to meditate as an example. It’s likely when you begin to do anything new, like meditating, that you have some idea about how it should go. For example, with meditation you may have an idea that it will “quiet your mind.” You may also have an idea that to quiet your mind you have to “stop your thoughts.”

    If you have these ideas when you begin to meditate, you’re going to be frustrated, because meditation just doesn’t work like that. Your idea is not going to match up with your experience and you’ll be frustrated either with yourself, with meditation, or both. Your ideas about meditation are going to get in the way of your success.

    Instead, meditation proceeds from a whole different attitude—acceptance. In meditation, you learn to accept whatever happens inside and around you. You learn to observe yourself and circumstances without judgment or reaction. You learn to let go of ideas and witness “what is actually happening.”

    If you have many thoughts streaming through your head, you learn to simply recognize that. You may note it with a label such as “thinking.” Then you let those thoughts pass on by and you return to the focal point of your meditation. You do this as many times as you notice yourself caught up in thoughts, feelings, or sensations that pull you away from your focus.

    The acceptance of “what is” will help you in whatever you do in life. Whenever you notice yourself irritated, frustrated, stressed, anxious, or in any way uncomfortable, ask yourself “What idea am I holding onto right now?” What idea are you using as a lens to look at your life? Become aware of the words in your head. Are you telling yourself, “I should be able to do this,” or “I shouldn’t be late,” or “They should do something about this,” or “This isn’t fair,” or “My mind should be quiet when I meditate” or . . . Discover the most prominent idea in your mind.

    Then, see, feel, and observe “what is actually going on.” Accept whatever is happening without judging it as “good” or “bad” or trying to change it in any way. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is actually the doorway to positive change. When you observe and accept “what is actually happening,” you will begin to see what needs to happen next and you allow it to happen naturally.

    As you connect with your observing, accepting attitude you may find that situations lose their reactive edge and you settle into a quieter state. Your mind gets a little clearer, your emotions calm, and your body relaxes. Instead of trying to make life fit an idea that you have about it, you allow life to show you what is actually happening and what needs to happen next. The pressure and anxiety subside and you relax into the flow of life.

    Enjoy your practice,

    Kevin

    P.S. Learn to meditate naturally and easily. Click here to learn “The Secrets of Meditation.”

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