Take it with you

Mindfulness, and meditation should be so easy. I mean, what could be easier than intentionally bringing your attention fully to the present moment, without judgement? Being aware of your body, thoughts and feelings and your surroundings cannot be that hard − can it? But it turns out that it’s not that easy. It is not the learning that’s difficult; it’s the unlearning.

We are born into this world into a situation we did not choose. We did not choose our parents, our religion, our culture, our nationality, our family nor our environment. In fact, none of the important decisions in your childhood were made by you.  You simply adapted to the situation in which you found yourself.

Our minds were pumped full of ideas about how the world works; how to behave, what to believe; all kinds of prejudice, even how to think. Those with power over us (people who also didn’t choose their reality) populated our minds with perceptions and beliefs that we came to mistake for reality. In this way distortions in perception are passed from generation to generation.

We mostly live in “autopilot” mode, reacting mindlessly to our distorted perception of events in our lives. It is a type of ignorance which can and does create suffering.

Meditation and mindfulness open the door to first seeing were our distortions lie and then being able to choose consciously a response which conforms to our values; rather than unconsciously react.

However, meditation is pointless unless you take it into your daily life; unless you make the effort to live it.

I remember as a child feeling that people were such hypocrites, going to the church or mosque once a week, feeling and acting holy; but the rest of the week they acted like total arses.

It is easy to do the same with meditation: to meditate in the morning then go and shout at the children; or speak harshly to your partner; get angry with other motorists; to not see or appreciate the people, the world around you; to not see and appreciate the wonderful gift that this life is.

Remember, meditation, like religious worship, is not the objective; it is not an end in itself; it is not simply another task that we have to do in order to cross it off our “to do” list. It is a preparation, a training to help us live a better life − to make a better difference.

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