In his book Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh describes meditation as learning to stop, calm and look deeply. This month I thought we’d focus on the stopping.
We all have things that we do habitually; those thoughts and behaviors we engage in when we go on automatic pilot. It’s often difficult for us to see that we’re doing them because they are as automatic as the air we breathe. When we do stop and see what we’re doing, we often realize that our present behavior is informed by past programming, experiences, or is being driven by biological urges that are not in our present awareness. The particular thought or behavior, when looked at, may not have relevance in the present moment, and may even contribute to present moment suffering.
This month we’ll begin our Mindful Explorations. If you’d like to play along choose a behavior (such as eating when you’re not hungry) or thought pattern (such as critical self-talk) that you’d like to become mindful of. It’s difficult to remember to be mindful of habitual patterns at first, so you may want to take a few note cards and write a reminder word on each. You can then post the cards in strategic locations such as your car, bathroom mirror, refrigerator or computer.
Meditation is helpful in this process because it helps us to calm and become less reactive. This slows or stops the momentum of habitual behavior and helps us to become more mindful of what we are thinking, saying or doing at any given moment. See how meditation impacts your mindfulness. On days when you meditate, are you less likely to habitually engage in the behavior or thought? What happens when you become aware? Are you able to stop? Do you make a conscious choice to do it anyway? How does all of this feel?
Be aware that in our western culture we have a tendency to use our “seeing” as a weapon against ourselves; beating ourselves up when we realized that once again we’ve gone down that path. Remember that when you “see”, this is your inner wisdom rising up. Beating ourselves up tells our wisdom to back down. Honor yourself, your inner wisdom and your process when you “see”.
If you’d like to do this with the support of our ever-growing community, you can post the thing you’re intending to bring mindfulness to on the Center for Mindful Exploration Facebook page and keep us posted on how it’s going.
Please be aware that on Facebook there is no such thing as confidentiality, so post with mindfulness!