Are you considering trying meditation, or maybe you already tried, but you felt it didn’t work, and you wasted your time?
Would you like to understand more clearly concerning concentration and Mindfulness?
In this article, I would like to discuss the difficulties in starting this practice and the main misconception about it.
WHERE IT COME FROM
It is an ancient practice coming from religious tradition or some mystic school worldwide, particularly from the east. Under the umbrella of meditation, there are many types; some involve repeating a phrase(a mantra); some involve visualization, to name a few, but here, I would like to focus on what can be described as Mindfulness meditation.
The term Mindfulness mainly indicates forms of meditation from Buddhist traditions and became popular in the 70s in the West, thanks to the studies of a professor and biologist of the University of Massachusetts, Jon Kabat-Zinn.
HOW DO WE MEDITATE
There are many variations; mostly, we place our awareness on the breath, which serves as an anchor. From this anchor point, we try to be conscious, moment by moment, of what we're sensing and feeling, without interpretation or judgment.
As thought, emotions, body sensation may arise, we become an observer of our inner world, exerting minimal effort and adopting a stance of non-judgment.
MAIN MISCONCEPTION AND OBSTACLES
I MUST EMPTY THE MIND
When we start meditating, we think we have to stop thinking or empty the mind.
We judge the qualities of our meditation by the quantity of thought we are having.
This attitude provokes an internal battle within ourselves, which instead of helping us, makes things worst: the more we push away our thought, the more they came!
The aim is not to empty the mind but to not get identified with the thought pattern. In other words, we don’t want to engage in the thought's story in our head.
IT IS A QUICK FIX
Sometimes, the reason we feel stress, or we experience anxiety, came from the way we relate with our everyday life experience.
Meditation is a tool that helps us to train ourselves to establish a different relationship with our experience, but to do that, we need time.
The bad habits that we developed over a decade won’t change overnight.
The good news is that we don’t need to meditate for 40 years in a cave in the Himalayas.
When we start, and I experience this myself, the results are very subtle.
If we are sitting, expecting enormous change, we will miss the subtle shifts altogether, so we might get discouraged and give up.
Patience is the key. If you learn nothing else from meditation, you will learn patience.
IT IS ABOUT RELAXING AND GETTING CALMER
If we experience daily anxiety or stress, those patterns won't magically disappear when we sit in meditation. Still, they will emerge again, maybe, as a body sensation or excessive thinking.
The calmness of the mind is only one result of the practice.
Consciously pursuing to “calm the mind” is not effective; instead, it often generates more mental waves and perhaps even some frustration and stress.
HOW MINDFULNESS RELATED WITH CONCENTRATION
The two are deeply related:
Concentration is an essential tool that helps us during meditation. When we start, prioritizing concentration helps to find when our mind wanders away and brings it back to the breath, without entering the story of our thought.
Without concentration, it is challenging to cultivate mindfulness because it is hard to train a wandering mind to do much of anything.
Mindfulness is sensitive awareness.
Coming back to our initial question, can I meditate without getting stress?
Yes, you can, but it is your choice, and it depends on the degree of acceptance that you apply while you observe your inner experience:
The more you reject your thought, feeling, and emotions, the more this rejection will stress you out.