Thursday, October 27, 2011
Creating Space Between Thoughts
I'm working with a sponsee who's been in recovery for quite some time now -- still he hasn't placed much of a priority on meditation. He told me he meditates a few minutes at a time here and there during the day. It's good that he's doing this; but I've found that a daily block of time produces better results. Surely anyone can set aside 2% of their day to meditate -- that's only 30 minutes. Any amount of meditation is beneficial, right?
"There is really no benefit to meditation ... but the side effects can be great." -- Zen student Jurek Dumchowski *
I can't hear or experience any messages from my Higher Power when I'm talking. I can't hear or experience any messages from my Higher Power when I'm thinking, for thinking is but talking to myself in my head. "Selfishness -- self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." The self-centered are always thinking about themselves.
I've got to make space for God's messages, the Universe's messages, a koan's message. This is why a BLOCK of meditation time is so important. Revelations come to me in-between the words of my thoughts and meditation widens that space between words. Slivers of meditation time give but slivers of reception while blocks of meditation provide the potential to give full reception to what's being offered.
Thinking, thinking about thoughts, not criticizing yourself for this, letting go of those thoughts, returning to the moment -- Thinking, thinking about thoughts, not criticizing yourself for this, letting go of those thoughts, returning to the moment -- Thinking, thinking about thoughts, not criticizing yourself for this, letting go of those thoughts, returning to the moment -- Thinking, thinking about thoughts, not criticizing yourself for this, letting go of those thoughts, returning to the moment... this is all you have to do for full reception.
I was taught to count my breath in meditation, keeping my eyes about one-quarter open. When I find myself telling stories to myself, to let them go and return to my breath.
"In zazen, leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don't serve them tea." Shunryu Suzuki
Koan practice is really a kind of meditation practice. When I find my mind wandering, when I notice that I'm thinking about my thoughts, to let them go and return to my koan. Any part of the koan will do -- koan meditation ... coming back to your koan, just like coming back to your breath.
Establishing a daily half-hour block of meditation is like having regular workout sessions at the gym except here you're building up your meditation muscles and endurance. This will increase the effectiveness of any meditations during the day. By increased effectiveness I mean better "reception" is created for any messages coming your way. An enhanced meditation practice is preparation for great side effects. How? A new-found ease in your meditation appears. No longer is it a chore or "homework" that your sponsor gives to you; instead, it will become a lifesaving tool that you'll reach for without even knowing that you're reaching.
And all this will happen by setting aside only 2% of your day to meditate.
* "Zen On Sonoma Mountain ..." -- The Press Democrat Newspaper, Published on May 3, 1998