Meditation 8 "Calm"
Updated: Aug 18, 2019
Welcome to Meditation 8 in this series of 10 meditations for calm living. If you’ve been following along from the get go - congratulations. We are almost there. I hope you are starting to feel a little different. A little more skilled at dealing with your inner world. I hope that if you tend to be anxious you are feeling more moments of calm creeping into your days and that this is beginning to challenge any beliefs you have about being an “anxious” person. Perhaps you can now accept that anxiety is something that comes and goes. Sometimes we are anxious but then again often we are not. One thing we can observe when we take the time to be still and mindful is that life is always changing and so are we.
We can liken our mind to a limitless blue sky. Thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the body come and go like clouds in that sky. If we get completely wrapped up in them we lose sight of the blue sky. When we let go, we catch a glimpse of blue expansiveness again. The more we practice noting the clouds pass by, the more distance we get from their intensity and the more of the peaceful blue sky we experience. I don’t believe in emptying the mind. For me, the empty blue sky is a state of awareness itself - some call it the ground of being. There is a part of us that is separate from cognition, sensation and emotion. A place where we can just be. This is where I feel most peaceful, connected, and loved.
It can be overwhelming if all day everyday we focus on ourselves. Any feelings or sensations we have are magnified and more intense. When we remember that our experiences are pretty universal and are evidence of our connection to other people and even other living beings - that we all suffer - we can soften a little bit and let go even if only for a moment from our own suffering. When we begin to notice others - what the experience of life is like for them we develop empathy. Becoming more curious and aware about the people around you is interesting - not to be analytical or judgmental or to “fix” them. Just to notice the predominant pattern/behavior in people around you from a place of kind understanding. People often just want to be heard rather than fixed. Realizing this was quite an “aha” moment for me. As a former nurse, “helping” was an ingrained behavior. I have also learned that sometimes the best thing you can to do is listen, empathize but not help. There are times when helping can be detrimental, when it stops another from developing their own resourcefulness and sense of strength.
We all struggle sometimes. Suffering is an universally shared experience. It connects us to each other. It might be anger, frustration, sadness, sickness, pain, compulsion or addiction. All the wisdom traditions of the world agree about this. Externally people might seem very different from you but internally people are pretty similar. Knowing this brings us closer together. We don’t feel so alone.
Becoming more aware of my inner world has not just been about observing repetitive, negative thought patterns though. I have got to appreciate positive emotions better too. Being aware of these happy moments helps me savor them better.
In today’s meditation we are going to turn our attention towards an unpleasant thought, feeling or body sensation in an experiment to see if with repeated sidelong glances does that experience become less intense. This is a way of dealing with difficult emotions. Please don’t choose your most difficult thought, feeling or sensation. Baby steps. Start with something a little uncomfortable and after practice work your way up to the more challenging. Again if this is your first time tuning in to this blog I encourage you to find Meditation 1 and work your way through.