There is a pandemic of thinking in Western Society. If there is one complaint that I hear more than any other when clients approach me for coaching or to learn meditation, it is that they are physically unable to find any respite from mental activity or thought. Even when sleeping, the brain is in overdrive and the client is, unsurprisingly, in overwhelm.
Meditation is commonly prescribed as an antidote to the stress caused by this inability to stop thinking and to become quiet within our own being. However, whilst many clients try to meditate, they quickly give up because of a simple mistake – they think something incredible is going to ‘happen’ almost immediately. They also expect to reach stage 2 (the expansive discovery state) without going through stage 1 (the boring mind-bilge waitout)…and as they weren’t expecting stage 1 to be so hard and so dull, they often give up within a week or less. By managing expectations and preparing for the difficulties, meditation can become part of your daily routine with minimal fuss.
STOP DOING : BE
The first thing to get past is any expectation that something is going to ‘happen’ because you are ‘doing’ something different. The thing to bear in mind is that the ‘happening’ that you are after is exactly that which you couldn’t stop if you wanted to. The ‘happening’ you are looking for is simply the natural state of you. At its heart, meditation is not about ‘doing’ anything, it is about noticing something that is already ‘happening’, whether you intend it or not.
Now, if meditation is just sitting still and noticing something that is already happening, why is it that we find it so challenging? What is the tricky bit?
Well, apart from our hesitation in making a commitment to set aside time in our hectic lives, the tricky bit is letting all the stuff which isn’t quite so natural simmer down for long enough that we actually get a good whiff of what has been happening all along…ie the self. YOU. You have been happening all along – and by that I mean humming along in quite an incredible way.
This pure place of ‘being’, is the foundation of all meditation, but is the most difficult and the least interesting stage. It is where most meditators dabble and then give up. It is a practice of simply allowing the mind to become silent through witnessing. The second stage, the stage of discovery, is only available once stage 1 has been achieved. Stage 2 is the gift. It is far more exciting and expansive. The possibilities for discovery in stage 2 are limitless but include self-exploration, contemplation and opening to wisdom. So persist in just being, welcome challenges and initial barriers and release expectations. With commitment, dedication and gentleness you will soon be exploring the wonderful gifts that this practice unfolds.