Breath and the active mind
With the end of the first week of the Solstice Mediation Renewal, I would like to share my experience.
This four-week course is done online through the Love-Serve-Remember Foundation, founded by Spiritual teacher, author, and Yogi Ram Dass. It includes guided meditations with daily mantra, pre-recorded dharma talks by Ram Dass, a work-book, journal, and daily calendar. The objective of the course is to help start or renew a daily mediation practice.
The first weeks theme is, Befriending our Direct Experience. The courses first lesson is the art of "coming home to breath", a technique of feeling and experiencing your breath, to watch it. Its the basic foundation to quieting the restless mind, its the start for all beginners, and I found it to be difficult.
The first day of the renewal I sat as straight as I could, perched still on the soft cushion of my sofa. I donned my ear plugs in order to help drown out the ambient buzzing of the life outside and focused on the feel of my chest rising-- of it falling. I concentrated on experiencing it, trying not to identify with it, to allow it to happen.
Am I doing this right? What should I do with my hands? What do I want to have for dinner? What's my daughter doing?
Wave after wave these thoughts flooded my mind. According to the teaching, when this happens you simply bring your attention back to breath, back to home base. Each time guiding the mind back to center.
This isn't working. I'm too distracted. I'll never be able to shut my brain off. I can't... I can't... I can't...
I was well on the train of these thoughts before I even noticed I was thinking. I couldn't even tell that I lost concentration. My brain jumped from one thought to another seamlessly, without pause, without consciousness. They ran out of control and I was along for the ride.
That's the first lesson. That was it. Noticing the chaos. Its what they wanted me to feel, what I needed to learn in order to become aware of the needless banter that floods my mind. Its a lesson that, after writing about it now, I realize I am still learning.
The rest of the week I worked on noticing these hurricanes of thoughts in order to reign them in. Each time I would bring my awareness back to the rise of my chest... to the fall.
Its not easy training yourself against something you've done, unconsciously, your whole life. Its something that is going to take time to do. I only need to get out of my own way and allow.
Come back next week for my thoughts, and revelations on week 2!
For more information on Ram Dass and the Love Serve Remember foundation please click the link.