Letter to Elliott and Shelby #7 – Mindful Awareness Meditation

Dear Elliott and Shelby,
Here we are again and as promised, we’re going to talk about meditation.
It’s remarkably simple to do, you don’t need anything at all, except your breathing. I remembered when I first started meditating, I thought “Man this sucks and I can’t possibly be accomplishing anything” but you’ll come to learn the effect is a cumulative one. I have to say that after doing it for nearly 20 years that my reaction to trying events is now more like my mother and less like my father.

Meditation is not a particularly “buddhist thing”, it’s an everyone thing, because it doesn’t matter what you believe in, you’re gonna benefit. After all, if we spent 15 minutes a day meditating on what Jesus or Buddha taught, the world would be a better place. It’s important for exactly that reason. Whether you choose to be a christian, buddhist or whatever, your most important responsibility to practice your belief as a philosophy and not just simply use it as a label which is something that most are guilty of. That is the absolute laziest kind of action and never achieves what religion is meant to do which is to raise up your fellow man and you in the process of practicing it.

First thing is to get seated. You can do this in a chair, but my own preference is to do it sitting on a meditation cushion. Sit with your back straight up and down, hands on your knees and looking at the carpet in front of you. Keep your lips slightly pursed and breath deeply through your nose and exhale through your lips.

As you are exhaling follow your breath out and by that I mean just pay attention to it as it pushes its way over your lips and out into the world. That’s it! That’s how easy meditation is.

Well, theoretically, because it never works that way in real life.

What really happens is something like this……

As you breath out, some random thought is going to enter your mind most times, it will be a strikingly random thought, like song lyrics.
Or remembering an incident with someone
Or something coming up during the day
Or a moment from a television show.

It can be anything which underscores why sometimes the mind is referred to as the “drunken monkey”. It will meander aimlessly and randomly and who knows why.

When these thoughts enter your head you don’t ponder or obsess on them. You just take a moment to label it as “thinking” and then go back to your breathing. There’s no need to be heavy handed with this process, it’s not target practice. It also doesn’t matter what thought it happens to be, you just label it as “thinking” and go back to your breathing. Don’t worry, those thoughts will come back to you when you are not meditating but while you are on the cushion, you see them for what they are.

You might think after some years of meditating that it doesn’t get easier because you keep getting these thoughts popping in and out of your head and that’s normal. I’ve been doing it for 20 years now and it still happens and I have met monks who have been doing it for 40 years who say that same thing. The point is not to stop having the thoughts entering your head, the point is to put the thinking into it’s proper context and the benefit is one that carries over into your normal waking life.

You see, when someone insults you, of course you’re gonna be offended and at that point you are at a crossroads….
Do you strike back and make the situation worse or do you see your reaction for what it is? You can apply the proper understanding in this situation and move on without it damaging you.

Continuing this bad dynamic only makes things worse for you and feeding that anger is poison. You can’t drink poison and expect the other person to die. Pure and simple.