Because Zen makes sense

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

A Meeting With Yourself

An ad for Norwegian railways suggest that  travel by train gives us the opportunity to “have a meeting with ourselves”. Wonderful expressed, it is mindfulness in its core essence. To me meditation is my meeting with myself.

Seen from outside my sitting can seem a waste of time, a selfish and egocentric act. In my experience this meeting with myself, where I “bring my mind back home”, is of course time I decide to use on my own, and on my own well-being. I agree, it can seem egocentric.

But meditation is about building that calmness, that insight and awareness, that prepare me mentally also to be friendly towards others, to be aware of them with empathy and understanding. Basically meditation helps me to wipe out the boundaries between us, ther is less “me” and “them”. Meditation strengthten my sense of interconnectivity, one one-ness.

But even without it, because meditation makes me good, is beneficial to myself, I think I deserve this “meeting with myself”, this way av self-care and self-empathy. It is not only a privilege to meditate, it is an accept of my basic needs, it is me taking responsibility for myself. And that is also my obligation to be aware of my own needs, and taking care of my own needs.

Trouble is that so few put aside time for meetings with themselves. We all deserve to mindfully and focused use time on ourselves. I think the ad from Norway contains that wisdom we all need; having meetings with ourselves.


Loosing My Temper

The ideal is tranquilly  and stability  of mind.  Then yesterday I lost my temper for a moment in the most ridiculous way. A new opportunity for learning unfolded.

What happened was that I found a bucket filled with oil in a closet in the cellar. It was definite from my time as an owner, but anyway I decided to get rid of it. The result was stinking oil spilled on the floor, on myself, and on some other equipment standing on the floor. When I cleaned up the mess, I suddenly had an outburst towards those who, more the thirty years ago, had put the bucket there, and left it for me to find it.

It was anger of no use. I don’t know who this person might have been, his/her reason for letting the bucket behind. And besides; my anger by no means helped me clean up the mess, the mess I actually had created all by myself.

Afterwards I could smile of the whole incident. But I also felt a bit embarrassed for not controlling my temper in a better way. But by that I fell into several traps in my thinking.

First: I was judgmental towards myself. My outburst was a fact, by feeling embarrassed I was not accepting this. Acceptance is the key to change. Change is the brother of acceptance, but the younger brother.

Second: My emotions are also part of myself, by observing them, and even act them out, I get an opportunity for insight. I shall not cling to such outbursts, or excuse them, but just observe them with awareness, and then learn from them.

Third: The only one hurt was in fact myself. The one who put the bucket there in the first place was not around. So I experienced the truth in Buddha saying: I am not punished for my anger, but by my anger. So my emotions fooled me into anger, the consequences was in the end just a bit more wisdom.

Acceptance is the key concept in this little episode, not as an excuse, but as a platform for insight and then change. I should be thankful for the bucket of oil, my spilling, and my emotions, which, retrograde, I actually am. Our trivial experiences all widens our horizons.

When Meditation Becomes Training

Mondays are difficult days for meditation, – for me. And the reason is simple; My mind is filled with planning of the day and the week. And that is also the case when I am stressed for other reasons. I focus, then loose focus, focus back, and loose the focus again. I must admit that loosing focus is not unusual when I meditate, but not to this extent.

Will this fact make me a “bad” meditator, failing in the most important aspect of mindfulness meditation?

First of all; It is not mindfulness to be judgmental. That fact itself should lead to the rejection of my own question. The question is not relevant at all, even though I must admit that the very thought may reach my mind when I sit there, kind of struggling with my concentration. In principle mindfulness meditation can’t fail in this sense.

The other fault of my judgment is that mindfulness meditation is about process, not about the result. When I get a this feeling of failure, that should also tell me that I cling to expectations regarding my meditation which also is a wrong attitude. I know, but I still sometimes get psychologically trapped.

My antidote is to remind me that meditation is about training, not about my success or my feeling. Focusing is a discipline like all other kinds of training. The doing is the matter, not the result in the short run. The flow of meditation will return, my tranquility will return, my ability to focus will return. Nothing is permanent, not even my unfocused mind. My mind change.

Besides, I have turned even my planning into mindfulness. If I can’t beat it, I just let my planning become the object of my focus. I experience that my planning in a meditation setting actually is very rewarding when i focus on it. And the strange thing is that when I focus on my planning, it helps me focus back on my breath. When I fight the planning, I get glued to what I try to avoid.

The flow of meditation gives me this sort of insight. To me meditation therefore becomes a travel in wonders, where I actually experience what I intellectually could have imagined. And even when I miss the flow, when meditation only becomes training, and I accept that fact instead of fighting it, my training becomes meditation. The circle is closed.

The Comfort of Impermanence

While we usually strive for something constant, something permanent, something that is not changing, we miss the blessings of impermanence. It is in the change we find the permanence, because everything is change.

We tend to cling to what we experience as pleasant, beautiful and good, while we try to avoid the unpleasant. Because our striving for something permanent is not a striving for permanence as such, but a strive for the all goods in life. It is a fruitless, and mindless, use of energy. We know that also pleasures will come and go.

Actually it is the shifts that make us experience the good and pleasurable. With only pleasures we would be unable to feel pleasures as pleasures, the good as  good. It is the contrast to our less pleasant experiences that make our pleasures valuable. It is the shifts, the change, the impermanence, that make us aware of our blessings.

And the c omfort of impermanence is that even our pain, our frustrations, and our not-so-good experiences will go away, change. For even they are impermanent.  When nothing lasts for ever, we can face the life relaxed, and in confidence that we will receive our share of both good and bad. And we can rest in the fact that the permanence of change is the only permanence worth striving for.

Living in the Moment

We are always living in this moment; will you live it in present or absent?

Carlson/Baily, ‘Slowing Down to the Speed of Life’

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