Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazed monkey with St. Vitus dance stung by wasp

The most common obstacle to adding meditation to one's routines, by far, is the conviction that one "can't" or one "does it wrong" or "isn't good at" the practice.  As Lynn reads from the section of Huston Smith's "The World's Religions" that discusses Hinduism, I hear a nice discussion of meditative practice.  Make no mistake, all religions practice meditation in one form or another.  Many forms of prayer, silent worship and practices related to "concentration" are forms of meditation.   You can test this idea by checking out the pages of Children and Meditation here or by putting the name of your religion and "meditation" in Google or other search engine.  You will almost certainly find at least 50,000 hits, other sites about that subject.  

A major point of this blog and many areas these days is that it is quite a life asset to practice meditation whether or not you have a strong active religious life.  What is emerging is clear-cut evidence of the psychological and health benefits from single-point meditation.  That is the practice of keeping your attention on a single target, such as a point in your field of vision or your breath, for about 10 minutes a day.  

Doing so enables you to be more alert, more aware, more (here comes a hot word today) mindful of what you are attending to, of where you are putting your attention, of what you are allowing to be in your conscious mind.  What good is that?

Being aware of what you are paying attention to allows you to stop for a sec and think about whether that is what you want to be spending this moment on.  We have many choices that most people make from habit or from a sense of duty or obligation without realizing they have a choice.  We do have innumerable blessings but if we are not aware of them, if we don't appreciate them, we are back in the position of the beggar who unknowingly carries a gem of great worth in the lining of his jacket while suffering poverty.

So, it pays to meditate but we have to believe in doing it and we won't if we are convinced we aren't good at it, aren't doing it right.  It helps to know that for 3000 years, humans have been aware that their minds jump about.  Huston Smith says the idea is that the mind tends to behave like a crazed monkey with St. Vitus dance just stung by a wasp, "Nay, a DRUNKEN crazed monkey with St. Vitus dance just stung by a wasp".  That image, the mind as monkey, is an old one.  Minds are jumpers, they are associaters, they are refreshers which continuously seek out the new.  They do that and they always will.  However, training ourselves to be aware when our attention has jumped off the target is the thing.  It's the valuable tool, the awareness.

Just as it pays to train the toddler not to wander out into the street, it pays to train our mind to stay put for a bit. While we are working on that, we develop an awareness of where the toddler is.  We pick him up and move him back to the target.  He learns and we learn.

We get more awareness and we get to pick more fun and joy, and less fear and depression.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

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