Have you been told that you must stop your thoughts entirely so that you can meditate? This restrictive belief prevents many people from exploring meditation, and leads to a division between the self and the mind. Such needless fears about mental chatter may prevent you from enjoying meditation as a meaningful activity — something that you can practice in a mindfully focused, and yet truly personal way.
Even if you do quiet the mental chatter somewhat, your attempt to make the chatter completely cease produces resistance and self-judgment. When you realize that mind chatter does not stop you from meditating, then your meditations become easier, and deeper, because you are not divided against yourself.
You are not trying to stop the mental chatter. And you are not preoccupied with the chatter, either. Well, you may ask, just what are your options when you meditate? You can notice chatter, without deeply listening to it. Of course, when you are not judging it, then it is easier to just let it be, and that leaves you free to meditate.
You may still wonder, though, how can you meditate with chatter in the background? Meditation is awareness, and you can let the chatter in the background be there. It is part of the awareness — part of the scenery — and so it becomes harmless. Let the chatter be like wallpaper — irrelevant to you. Just let it be.
But you have heard that meditation is an activity that must be done according to strict rules, and you still worry that you must follow these rules exactly. Don’t fear — you can participate in valid meditations, without restricting yourself with narrow, limiting rules. Your centered, mindful attention gives you many options for accessing genuine meditative experiences.
Your consciousness is unlimited, and your focused consciousness is much more capable than you may have realized.
The narrow, limited ideas that people have about meditation are many:
– The notion that you have to sit in a certain way,
– and that you must be entirely free of any thoughts,
– and you have to breathe in a particular pattern,
– or perhaps you must be in a specially approved spiritual building,
– with special spiritually approved people,
– for a specific period of time, at a certain hour of the day, etc.
Throughout history, teachers attempted to establish some guidelines about meditation and spiritual awareness. Their intentions to define standards for achieving a positive meditation experience were sincere. However, they did not appreciate that meditation is a vast mountain, with many valid pathways leading to the top of that mountain.
Meditation is centered awareness, and it takes place in any circumstance where you practice mindful, integrated awareness.
When you explore awareness, you are, of course, utilizing your consciousness. And consciousness is so amazingly vast that it transcends limited beliefs about the conditions required for meditation to take place. When you are doing an activity with genuine mindfulness, your attentive presence creates a sacred space, wherever you may be.
Please don’t indulge in the excuse that your thoughts or circumstances somehow prevent you from having a real meditative experience.
When you learn to cultivate balanced integrated awareness, gently unifying your breath awareness with your body, your heart, your mind, and your soul, then you discover that you really do have the means to move forward in your spiritual path. You come to recognize that love, wisdom and common sense are living principles within you.
And if there is a bit of mental chatter, just smile at it, and thank it for sharing, and continue with your meditation.
As you release the constrictive beliefs about so-called correct meditation, you find that meditation is something that you can explore in many ways, in many circumstances, and at any time — such as this splendid moment now. Welcome to this moment — take a breath, feel your living presence, and discover the gift that your awareness is sharing with you now.
Joel Bruce Wallach
Founder, Cosmic Living – spiritual instruction – tele-classes and home-study mp3’s