This is my second post on the book “The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. This time on its chapter on Meditation/Buddhism. I’m not Buddist but some of the stuff it teaches is interesting/useful.
If you are like me, for years you have been hearing people (therapist, parents, friends, doctors, etc.) telling you that meditation is the way to relieve stress and to become calmer, so you try it. And you try it and you end up feeling like you are failing. That somehow you are just not doing it right. For me, with the multiples, meditation isn’t just about quieting one mind or part of it, it’s like a whole neighborhood. You have multiple houses all blasting their radios – heavy metal, polka, something Spanish, a talk show, etc. You have to spend time going around to each of these house and turn off the music. And when you think you’ve got them all off, they switch back on again, and you have to turn them off again. On and on it goes till you either give up or you have all of them blasting at once. Either way, it’s not a relaxing experience.
So you can image my thoughts when I got to this chapter. I was ready to stop reading. Then I learned something I HAVE BEEN MEDITATING WRONG. I thought I had to completely clear my mind to properly meditate. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, that wasn’t true. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, reaching a state of bliss or achieving a trance-like state of calm. It is not a way of seeking happiness, but a way to stop running away from things that we are either not aware of or don’t want to face.
Here’s what you do: You take the time to sit comfortably still, close your eyes and notice your breath as it flows in and out. One breath in, one breath out. Things will come up, sensations, emotions, etc. We need not be distracted by them but instead we need to notice them. We need not judge them but instead watch our thoughts and emotions, our desires and aversions, as they come and go. We need to resist the urge to run, fix or cling to them. Whatever comes up, good or bad all you need to do is stay present and you observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Always returning to your breathing.
The chapter goes on about practicing non-attachment, but i’ll leave some of the book for you to read