In my mindfulness meditation practice the other morning, I had the experience of being in the moment – for a moment. In that ten minute period of sitting, I might have had three ‘being in the here and now’ moments. I was in future time, preoccupied with planning, a place I often end up.
A musician friend, Afro Moses, has written a song, the catch line of which is, “You thinking too much”.*
What is it about our thoughts that is so mesmerising and has us think they are more real than that bird singing outside our window? Or, has us miss out on the feeling of a soft breeze on our skin?
Meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says we should meditate as if our life depended on it because it does.
That’s scary! How many sleep walking moments do we have as we wander through our days and nights? We drive from A to B not noticing the landscape. We move from cat pose to dog pose, suppressing our breath. We miss seeing the shorebirds as we walk along the beach.
By now, I would have thought I’d be good at this paying-attention-business. I’ve done yoga for 40-plus years, meditated, watched my breath, practised active listening. What is the magic moment when I say, no more ripping myself off! I’m going to plant myself firmly in the here now.
Now? Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s enough to notice when I’m present to life and be kind to myself when I go unconscious. The teacher, author, and Bhuddist nun, Pema Chodron, takes a compassionate approach to living. It’s a thread that runs though all her dharma talks and writing. She suggests that we be willing to be with ourselves just as we are:
Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away or become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.**
It’s not about my being a perfect meditator or a perfect anything because that will only lead to judging myself as good or bad. The practice is to develop unconditional friendship with myself, and learn to ‘friend’ myself especially when I feel unloveable. *
“Let’s Say Goodbye to Confusion”
**Comfortable With Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion