Breathe Be Focus
“Breathe and be and focus in this second.” I find myself saying these words repeatedly in the guided meditation groups I facilitate. Folks with no or a good deal of experience meditating sit for forty-five minutes. I speak a few words frequently for the purpose of keeping our attention focused.
Paying attention to what is each second challenges our jumpy minds. Learning to simply be in the Observer while practicing detachment invites an alert passivity. It’s like watching a movie. We sit, we breathe, we notice our breath, our thoughts, our feelings, and we sit and we breathe. When we watch a movie we don’t jump onto the screen. We stay in our seat and just notice what unfolds. We may like the action or not. It doesn’t matter; we just watch.
Likewise, in meditation we notice our thoughts and feelings but we maintain our detachment. We don’t start thinking or identifying with our feelings. We breathe and watch and stay in our Observer. Learning detachment allows us to identify with the Observer, a part of ourselves deeper than our thoughts and feelings.
Centering and Healing
Newcomers to meditation often struggle with their inner world chaos. “I can’t meditate; my mind is too busy.” “That’s exactly why we meditate,” I respond. Meditation isn’t quieting the mind. It’s having a different relationship to it—one in which we look at our thoughts instead of thinking them. The same with feelings—we notice our feelings while we experience them. Our Observer maintains its detachment and watches the whole show from a bit of a distance.
Sometimes I use the image of the Observer looking through a window. On the Observer side of the window, the breath comes and goes naturally as though the breath breathes us. We be, we notice, and we allow. On the other side of the window, thoughts and feelings move. Staying on the Observer side of the window, we can look at them without being caught up in thinking or feeling. We notice the anger or the frustration or the joy or the excitement or the worries or the plans or the memories and we allow them to pass. We don’t attach to anything.
We practice non-resistance—“I won’t fight the feeling which comes up,” then acceptance of everything–“thank you for this feeling which I don’t like,” then trust–“I say Yes to this second.” Non-resistance challenges those of us who like to act, who judge and want to correct. But as we accept that Life is not a problem to be solved and that our minds (our Controllers) don’t know best, we acknowledge the beauty and wisdom in the patterns of our lives which lead us to heal.
Life is for healing through experience. If our Controllers cut off our experience, we can’t heal. We can’t stay safe, intellectual, above it all, comfortable and still heal. Healing is messy and sometimes painful and always vulnerable and we’re never in control. Life knows what experiences we need to heal. We can cooperate with Life or resist and stay in our heads.
We practice gratitude for every little thing. “Thank you for my breath today.” “Thank you for that driver cutting me off and taking my parking place.” “Thank you for the latest disappointment.” How many times have I heard, “That’s crazy to be thankful for what you don’t like and didn’t choose and don’t want!”
It is. But what’s the alternative? To be angry or hurt and vengeful? To take it personally and hate others? I’ve lived that way and it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t empower me, and I don’t heal. My life works better when I say, “Yes, thank you, and what’s next?”
Meditation is practice for life. We practice letting go of our minds, accepting what comes, releasing what we no longer need to hold onto, breathing, trusting, and waiting to be shown the next step. If we can do that for twenty minutes, we can do it throughout the day. We practice the relationship we want to have with Life in meditation.