How To ‘Be’

I always look forward to my Tuesday evening meditation group. I love the opportunity to practice with others. We sit on our cushions in the candlelit room and we share the stillness. (Albeit with the occasional interruption from traffic outside. This week it was James Brown blasting from a car stereo.)

Then we’ll have tea, and chew the fat of spiritual practice.

Last night we talked about the joy of ‘non-doing’…one of those gloriously Zen subjects that really messes with your head.

It’s good to remember that as humans we have a tendency to overcomplicate things. It happens out there in life, but it also happens on the cushion. As beginners, meditation practice is simple- we follow the breath (or our object of focus).

But then in a sneaky kind of fashion so we can barely notice, ego creeps in and we start trying to ‘do’ meditation. We suddenly want to be better at it. We want to think less, we want to relax, we want to feel a certain way.  And we’re no longer just sitting on the cushion- we’re striving. We’re seeking for something outside of the present. We lose the joy and contentment  because we’ve forgotten that everything we need is here with the breath and with the cushion. There’s nothing that needs ‘doing’.

What we experience on the cushion reflects what we experience in our daily life. If we can see that we push ourselves even as we sit with a simple practice, we can know for CERTAIN that we’re pushing ourselves out there in our daily life.

So it’s great to use our time in stillness to practice non-doing- just being with the present moment in it’s sheer perfection (‘Hotpants’ included!). Then we can take that practice out into the world, and learn to be in life without so much striving or pushing or pressure or trying to be what we’re not.

We hear all the time that joy is found in the acceptance of life as it is right now. But that’s not so easy. How do we begin?

We begin with the cushion. We practice on the cushion, without distraction.

We don’t have to be better at meditation. We don’t have to think less.

We simply watch the breath or repeat our mantra, and learn to be still within the moment