Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Function of Mindful Meditation

Recently, I got to recount to a friend the 7 helpful things I found important to be reminded daily on this journey that I have started not long ago, they are:
1. No judgement
2. No fear
3. Live in the moment
4. Forgive
5. Gratitude
6. "No mistakes"
7. Believe in oneself

As I was explaining to my friend what each of them mean, I realized that all of them are interdependent and supporting of each others; and more importantly, that for me the practice of mindful meditation at this stage is an exercise of applying these seven reminders in daily life.

In mindful meditation, we are told to focus our mind only on our breath and let go other thoughts. When we find our mind wondering off with thoughts, simply notice it and bring it back to the breath, gently and without judgement. Regardless of how well we are in carrying out these instructions, as long as we do it (meditation), it is considered a success; and at the end of the session we give thanks to ourselves and others for the opportunity to meditate.

So for a beginner, each meditating session usually goes like this: you start off with focus on the breadth, then you find the sitting uncomfortable which draws away your attention -- you may struggle with this throughout the session; you find your mind wondering off with other thoughts and had to bring it back; you find yourself falling asleep; you hear noises that draws your attention away; you find yourself getting irritated at not being able to focus for long; etc. etc.  Some days you are better at it, some days not.  You don't feel any immediate benefit, you think this must be just another failed attempt.  But your instructor tells you keep on going, you are doing fine as long as you continue -- but how could it be?

Here's what I realized: to meditate as instructed above and to be able to continue the practice despite all the "failures" mentioned above, one must put the seven points mentioned above in action.

What's better way to pass "no judgement" than in face of "failure"? When you do not judge your session to be a failure, but as what it is, when you don't have fear of never going to do it "right" -- you continue.  Continue focusing on the breadth, which is a form of "living in the moment", for your mind is on each breath, in the "now".  When your mind wonders off, forgive your action instead of judging it.  As the instructor said, as long as you practice meditation, you are doing fine, so there is "no mistakes".  Only in truly knowing so you can be grateful for the opportunity to meditate, and thank yourself for making time to do so.   And last but not least, when one believes in himself, it would not be hard for him to continue meditation without giving it up due to frustration.

Mindfulness doesn't end with meditation.  "Failing" at mindful meditation as beginners gives us the opportunity to practice the 7 important things daily in order to continue.  When we can develop the habit of acting in accordance with the 7 reminders, and extend them to all parts of life -- then we will enter the first step of gaining back control of our free will.

The benefit of mindful meditation doesn't end here, but this is the first step for me.