Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Meditation gives us the opportunity to observe how repetitive and automatic much of our thinking is.

From The Boston Globe
by Kara Baskin

"...I say this with the arrogance of a week’s practice. During my first solo outings, I felt as though I’d invited all my gruesome fears to a cocktail party and needed to politely entertain each one. “Looming deadline? Yes, hello! How have you been? You’ll be handled by 5 p.m. No problem! Just one minute, I think I see my mortgage statement behind you, looking for some clam dip!” Then I’d open my eyes and rush to check my messages.

I felt as if I’d failed, but in Benson’s world, there’s no such thing. He even anticipates this anxiety. On his website, he reassures: “Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation . . . maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.”

But I’m only human, so of course I want to know whether I’m doing it right. Eager for validation, I call Brenda Rogers, who leads meditation groups throughout metro Boston. Rogers calls it the practice of bringing attention to one object, like breath, in order to calm the mind.

“Don’t get discouraged,” she reassures me. “Everyone’s mind is like a drunken bumble bee.” Over time, it becomes more natural to accept and shrug off needling thoughts.

More and more, I’m treating these pesky party guests like specimens in a case — latent worries to be inspected, observed, and passively acknowledged. The relaxation response is becoming a way to take mental stock with some measure of remove, as though I’m a bystander in my own mind.

Now, this sensation is beginning to build on itself. More than a week in, I find myself actually looking forward to taking a break, instead of feeling like an unfaithful spouse, cheating on my daily routine. With this permission, it’s actually somewhat interesting to sit quietly and see which pesky thoughts bubble to the surface without feeling tethered to them.

“Meditation gives us the opportunity to observe how repetitive and automatic much of our thinking is,” Rogers tells me. By going deeper within ourselves, we can become bigger than our thoughts alone. In the middle of a busy workweek, an escape from the mundane is just a few deep breaths away. It’s a pretty calming thought..." read it all

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