What would you say is the hardest skill to master? Painting? Calligraphy? Origami? Tap dancing? Calculus? Qigong? Kung fu? Understanding why people still watch The Bachelor? How about trying to sit cross-legged on a cushion, closing your eyes, and just sitting there without a single thought coming into your head!
Now that’s an Everest size skill to develop. That being said, here are the most common misconceptions about meditation!
Seated meditation has been around for thousands of years. There are many forms and practices all with one goal in mind…… this is where people will often say…. to not think… or to quiet your mind. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the end goal of meditative practice.
How do we begin to meditate?
The power of meditation is a two-part process. The first part is training yourself to become aware of the errant thoughts that enter your mind regularly. This is achieved through techniques such as “counting your breaths” as you sit on your cushion.
Breathe in, breathe out – 1. Breathe in, breathe out -2. And so forth till you get to ten and then begin again.
Alternatively, people will use “following the breath”. They will breathe in and in their mind, they will say “this is my in-breath” allowing themselves to experience what that breath feels like In their body. Then they will breathe out and In their mind say “this is my out-breath” allowing themselves to experience what that feels like In their body.
During either of these techniques, the person will try their best to connect to the moment and the focus of their practice and when any errant thought creeps into their mind, they will say to themselves “thinking” bringing their attention to the fact that they have veered off track, without judgement or chastization, and then go back to their breath focus.
Slowly over time with grit and determination thoughts will come less and less and the ability to focus on the moment at hand will become more effortless. But here is the kicker….. this process does not make the thoughts go away, nor is it what it is designed to do. This basic level of meditative practice is designed to; S-L-O-W down the incoming thoughts so they can be better deciphered.
How does meditation change our thinking?
Think of it like this. Imagine your train of thoughts as exactly that….. a train. Now, on each train car, there are ten different thoughts written on the side of each car. To make things worse, for the average person, the train is driving at 100km an hour.
Imagine how difficult it would be to stand beside the train as it hurtles by and read, let alone make sense and understand all those thoughts…on that train of thoughts!
Here is where meditation comes in. Meditation does not wipe the train cars clean. Instead, meditation does two very powerful things. First, it slows the train down and two, it creates more space between the cars.
This allows the bystander to not only read the thoughts but more importantly, recognize when the same message is written over and over again on multiple cars. Mediation gives us the mental space to recognize when we are thinking the same thought on an endless loop.
It's at this point In their personal development that people tend to pat themselves on the back and say “yes I meditate!” They celebrate their achievement by telling others things like, “My mind is so much quieter now!”
At this point their development comes to an end as does usually their regular meditation practice, feeling that they have achieved some spiritual Milestone! These people forever miss the incredible peace and tranquillity that only comes with the second stage of meditation. What is known as Patriarch meditation.
What is Patriarch Meditation?
The process of patriarch meditation is one of chronologically tracing a repetitive thought back to the original seed in childhood. Once the original moment in time is discovered, then comes the task of completely and exhaustively examining the moment to fully understand all sides of the equation.
It is necessary to recreate the person you were at that moment in time in full detail. This will uncover the motivations for your actions at that moment in time. Understanding your “why” behind “what” you did in that moment will give you greater clarity as to the part you played in the situation.
Next, you turn the lens around to the other person in the situation and recreate the person they were at that moment. Understanding what led them to that moment and their “why” behind “what” they did in the situation.
By fully recreating both people in the situation you gain intuitive wisdom as to the true nature of the situation. The moment in time transforms from a misunderstood painful moment to an unfortunate interaction between two people not fully grasping their effect on themselves or the other.
Through this greater understanding of the situation, compassion for both parties is instantly felt. No longer is there a victim and a villain, but two people making certain choices based on poor prior and present understanding. It is through this process that forgiveness can manifest.
“Forgiveness is simply the eventual understanding of the true nature of the situation.”
How does deeper understanding change the way you feel?
The wisdom and understanding gained through this introspective meditative process shine a light on the fear-filled misunderstood darkness that has been carried through life. That fear emerges again and again in different forms, but always from the same imprinting moment In time.
Each time the process of patriarchal meditation is undertaken, one by one the repetitive thoughts lose their power over the present. These recurrent thoughts are swept away like unneeded rubbish never to return. We don’t obsessively wonder about what colour our socks are, because we can simply look down to find the answer.
This holds true for all the other repetitive thoughts that we have always obsessed about. As we slowly gain insight and understanding into their true nature, they cease to be a source of fear, stress and suffering and are seen for why they are, just a harmless moment in time from long ago.
As your intuitive wisdom increases and fears decrease, errant thoughts occur less and less. This happens because your connection to the moment isn’t derailed by knee-jerk reactions to childhood triggers. Through meditation, you become more conscious.
Conscious of your thoughts, conscious of their origins, conscious of the moment, conscious when you are no longer connected to it and most importantly ….conscious of why! In addition, you will be freed from the ignorance of the most common misconceptions about meditation.
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