Confessions of a Yoga Teacher - What Meditation Actually Is
When I started meditation, I thought it meant I had to empty my mind. I was at a loss as to how to do that...and why would I want to? It's true sometimes my mind is chaotic and loud, but to have it empty? That sounds terrible and, well, empty.
As I practiced, I began to understand it as quieting my thoughts. Still, very difficult and frustrating. I judged, and was disappointed in myself when that email for work, the shopping list, or the conversation from last night continued loudly, dragging me into a spiral of thoughts. Sometimes emotions sprung up, from seemingly nowhere, causing me to dwell on why they surfaced. And sometimes, quite frankly, I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. The idea of hearing their unkind clamor made me question why anyone attempted meditation.
But slowly, I realized it was about listening, without letting those rogue thoughts drag me down familiar paths. Still, not easy but possible. It took time for me to understand how to witness, how to listen, without judgment, without disappointment. By focusing on the experience, rather than the goal or an idea of what meditation should look like, I was able to witness the actual practice. By witnessing I was able to detach, rather than be wrapped up in the middle of it and in that sense, my mind was clear. It was not empty, or completely quiet. It was simply not reliving the past or worrying about the future.
Had I approached meditation with that idea of being empty or quiet, I would not have discovered the gifts that listening can provide. The way we can ground ourselves in this moment with awareness, and not spin down unproductive paths of past or future.
If you find yourself avoiding meditation, perhaps let yourself be curious about why. That in itself is a step towards listening.
"You are the sky, everything else is just the weather." ~ Pema Chodron ~