“Never let the sadness of your past or the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.”
When your doorbell rings do you answer it? When someone asks you a question do you reply? When your phone goes off do you pick it up?
Everyday we are constantly bombarded by external stimuli. We could go through our lives and remove them by turning off our phones, disconnecting from the internet, unwiring from the grid and becoming a hermit on some remote island.
However we can never run away from ourselves. There is a near constant dialogue running through our minds that left untrained and untamed can run wild.
But this is not about running away, it’s about being aware that just because we have these thoughts does not mean we have to react to them. Meditation is a way of training yourself in awareness and letting go.
Meditation drives two hard lessons:
1. Your thoughts are not reality.
2. You are not your thoughts or feelings.
When I say your thoughts are not reality I’m speaking specifically about the story we tell ourselves. Our experience of life is based on our perception of it and our perception is based on whatever condition our mind is in. If someone has pissed us off earlier in the day we may then be inclined to react to further events from that point of view, so that everything becomes “coloured” by a previous moment. Meditation teaches us that what is happening in our mind is not a true reflection of the outside world. This is incredibly freeing and empowering since we can then learn to respond, rather than react.
Once you realise your thoughts or feelings are not reality it then becomes obvious that you cannot be defined by them and we begin to find a transcendence from their influence over us. We do this through non-judgemental awareness. In meditation there is no right or wrong; rather things simply ‘are’. Feeling happy is not better than feeling sad, they are equally just feelings. Furthermore, there is no such thing as good or bad meditation, simply distraction and non-distraction. When you sit down to practice or notice you have become distracted by a thought or feeling during the day, don’t berate yourself, simply be aware of it – “oh yeah, feeling.”
The quicker we can become aware that we’ve been distracted; the sooner we can gently and kindly bring ourselves back to the present moment. And in the longterm, our relationship with our thoughts become more stable as we realise their impermanent nature. They come and go. Thoughts and feelings. Smoke and mirrors.
Even if you don’t want to meditate, try going about your day with those two lessons in mind and see how it may change your perception.