Watching our minds
BY NIKI JIMENEZ
There are many concepts and ideas about meditation.
One can only do it sitting down in quiet surroundings. It is a state of mind with no thoughts, or a sense of peace combined with white light. Most of all, we think that it is something separate and special from our everyday activities.
Meditation means to effortlessly remain in that which is. Without expectation or fear, we experience each moment as fresh and full of potential. Thoughts may come but we do not follow them. Fully present and aware, the highest of human qualities appear naturally: fearlessness, joy and active compassion. If we can act in all situations, times and places with these qualities, we bring an immense amount of happiness and reassurance to many people.
Through various meditation methods we learn to hold the mind still in one place so we can see it. If we imagine the mind is like a mirror, we are absorbed by the pictures in the mirror (thoughts, feelings and images) and do not see the mirror itself. Constantly following our thoughts and projections, we do not see the true nature of our mind. Meditation allows us to experience the mirror behind the reflections.
As one learns to hold the mind in one place through meditation, our friends, family and colleagues will gradually notice changes in us. We don’t become so angry over things that happen to us. Instead, we deal with situations in a relaxed manner. We are gaining a distance from our disturbing emotions, enabling us to choose how we react.
Meditation also teaches us about impermanence. By watching our mind, we see that thoughts and feelings appear, play around and then disappear again. When angry or jealous, we can use this information to help dissolve our disturbing emotions. If we were not jealous five minutes before, may not be five minutes in the future, then why take our present feelings seriously as these will also pass.
Another unexpected gift is that through meditation we begin to understand that there is no ego. What we previously thought of as an “I” we realise is an illusion. The cells of our body, our thoughts, and our names even, are always changing and have no real existence. The only thing that doesn’t change and is ever present is awareness itself, which we call mind. When harmful words or actions are directed at us, understanding that there is no ego means there is no target and we cannot be hurt.
Meditation is about experience. Turning our intellectual understanding into something deeper, taking it from our head to our heart and into our daily life. As beginners, we set up a practice place: a cushion, a quiet place, an inspirational buddha form and the like. As we practice more, we learn to take the experience gained on the cushion out into our everyday activity. This is where we develop rapidly and be of real benefit to others.