Who Can Benefit From a Meditation Practice?
Everyone. Unfortunately, many people have not been exposed to meditation in a way that fits their viewpoint. Many have set out on the journey and turned back. I understand why. It makes sense. Why would anyone eagerly stick with something that tends to show them more problems than solutions initially? And getting an accurate, real-life result might only arrive after many attempts. Months could go by before any progress is evident.
Digging into a solid meditation practice is not specifically spiritual. Anyone from any corner of the planet, faith or non-faith, can do it and get the results. A daily routine of sitting down, pulling away from the busy world and mind, can show anyone the deepest and best parts of themselves. Once we meet ourselves truly in meditation, we can then start living life with awareness.
This is another way of saying that you spend your days undistracted, which means you do not identify with distraction. Distraction is anything in your mind that pulls your focus away from you, knowing who and what you are. The sneaky thing about this distraction is that if we have lived that way since childhood, we are largely unaware that this is the state of things. We are unknown to ourselves.
A Result of Practice
Lama Marut often spoke about bringing your practice into real life. He would call it “Showtime” You can read about my first encounter with Lama Marut here.
I hopped into my van a few days ago and noticed a new mess on the floor between the seats and that the glove box had been emptied. I realized someone had broke into my van. I thought, “OK, what were they looking for?” They had somehow disarmed the alarm but didn’t punch into the ignition and try to steal the van. Instead, they left some valuable tools of mine there, like a crowbar and a nail puller—tools that a classic, fully employed thief would take to assist them with other jobs. Whatever coins they may have found couldn’t have been more than a few dollars. A disappointing haul!
I am telling this story to make a point about the results of meditation practice. Not once in that whole process of discovering the break-in did I become distracted. That means I didn’t leave awareness, which afforded me the grace of having no animosity toward whoever was skulking in the cab of my van that night. I felt no blame. I felt no anger. I didn’t feel defiled. I didn’t feel anything like that at all.
What I felt was compassion.
Over the years, on occasion, my vehicles have been broken into. And all of these vehicles have been work vehicles with tools in them. So getting broken into has been a pretty accurate measure of how my meditation practice was going.
Years ago, thieves smashing their way into my vehicle in the middle of the night would completely freak me out. I would feel much anger at these people. Also, sullen dismay that the police would probably never catch them and the depressing thought that the thief would return for more.
Over time, that afflicted state of mind, that losing myself to the hateful thoughts, started to give way to feeling sorry for the thieves. I felt terrible for them if they had tried to steal my truck and failed, having punched into the ignition without result. I would put myself in their shoes and imagine the utter failure that night.
I started to feel deep compassion. The trajectory of their lives had taken them into the fast nightlife of a car thief.
And as time passed and my meditation practice deepened, that budding compassion would become a quality present with awareness.
When you live in awareness like that, events like getting things stolen from you or someone insulting you don’t leave a stain. Because awareness is not a “self.” The long-lasting colours from life events happen to a “me” we identify with. But this “me” is transient. But we don’t see the fleeting nature of this self, and we believe in them so much we cultivate and protect them so passionately that this unwelcome house guest has taken over every room.
Lama Marut would often say. “You (say your name to yourself) will not become enlightened” when talking about this “me” that we identify with. You can read more about my encounters with him here.
What is distraction hiding from you?
Here is the point I am trying to make: in the most profound sense, identifying with that stainable self is not mandatory and is ultimately just a distraction. Often a lifelong one.
A distraction? A distraction from what?
Your awareness IS your happiness. The stillness of your awareness IS contentment itself.
It doesn’t become content. You don’t become a content person. Instead, you fall back into awareness and live the contentment you already are.
You gain your awareness back and discover that you are happiness itself. Independent of outer circumstances.
You get caught in something else if you’re unaware of your awareness. You get sucked into emotions, feelings, opinions, and judgments, obsessions about what will happen next, what has already happened, and what you wish would happen. The list is long. Until we are aware of our sublime inner nature, our hopes are pointed outward at a crazy and popular idea that, somehow, we can find our happiness on the other side of the fence.
But after enough sincere practice, we see the truth; Deep and lasting contentment has always been closer to us than our breath.
Check out John’s latest podcasts here.
So a big part of meditation practice is not just overcoming distraction on the cushion; it’s noticing how you live through your days. It is seeing how you sit in your awareness with each person you are with, each person that speaks to you, how well you are listening to them, and how well you are listening to yourself when you talk. How is your concern for the welfare of the other? If your mind is full of distractions, you won’t be able to answer those questions.
Starting a new life
To learn more, here is a link to the reaching bliss audiobook series episode 1
You can develop a profound relationship with distraction, and discovering what it is and how it directly impacts your life can be fascinating and liberating. Very well worth the time it takes.
Distraction is not only losing the object in meditation. It is much, much bigger than that. Trying to maintain watching an object of your choice in meditation is dipping your toes into the water.
But it starts there. It is the beginning of the end of a distracted life. This means it is the beginning of your most profound and ultimate discovery. You. The real one.
Are you free?
If we can’t focus on our breath for 30 seconds without being distracted, what does that imply about the rest of our day and the rest of our lives?
If you think you are free of distraction, you can give yourself a test. Close your eyes and decide that you will be focused entirely and single-pointedly on the physical sensations at the nostrils and upper lip as you relax and allow the breath to flow naturally. See if you can keep your attention there without being drawn away by something else for one minute.
If we can’t focus without distraction, we should discover that we can’t and do something about it. Meditate! Take power back into our lives. The benefits are immeasurable.
Every moment you spend trying to train the mind to be free of distraction is solid gold. Every time you try. Every time you fail. Every time you recall and come back to your chosen object. It’s Gold. The vast treasure is right underneath you. Start digging.
Learn more about John and his classes here: www.reachingbliss.com