Settling into our new permanent home here in Hawaii took much longer as anticipated, but Sandra and I are finally coming to an end of our moving-in phase. Now we actually have somewhere to sit down and relax. I am working on getting used to this. My mind is still in busy mode and, as soon as I sit down, it starts chatting about the remaining smaller projects. Although they are actually not urgent, I am already plotting and planning them in all detail. I keep telling myself that the point of being busy was to have more space to study and practice and that now it is time to change gears. It is taking a little bit to change my habit, but I am already enjoying the extra space and time for meditation a lot.
In the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on my misconceptions about meditation. I vaguely remember reading about this topic in one of Mingyur Rinpoche’s books not too long ago, and thought this would be nice to share in this blog. As far as I recall he wrote that people often get shocked and disappointed when they find out that Buddhist meditation is not ultimately aimed at producing a pleasant, peaceful, calm state of mind and instead is about simply becoming aware of whatever is happening in our minds. Initially this may be difficult to accept because we hope that meditation will make our destructive thoughts and emotions go away. However, learning to be aware and be present in the face of whatever arises in the mind, is ultimately the best solution to this problem. I have looked around for a while now but still haven’t been able to find this passage. Maybe this quote is not meant to be shared, for now at least. But, if you do come across it, please let me know!
Instead, I found a section in Mingyur Rinpoche’s book Joyful Wisdom about what meditation is, which I liked a lot, and decided to share this quote instead today. Rather than clearing up misconceptions about meditation, this passage explains how to approach meditation. Here it is:
“The Tibetan word for meditation is gom, which, roughly translated, means to become familiar with. Going by this definition, meditation in the Buddhist tradition may perhaps be best understood as a process of getting to know your mind. It’s actually very simple, like meeting someone at a party. Introductions are made— “Hello, my name is . . . “ Then you try to find a common point of interest: “Why are you here? Who invited you? All the while, though, you are looking at this other person, thinking about the color of his or her hair, the shape of the face, whether he or she is tall or short, and so on.
Meditation, getting to know your mind is like that in the beginning. That may sound odd at first, since most of us tend to feel that we already know what’s going on in our minds. Typically, however, we’re so accustomed to the flow of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations that we rarely stop to look at them individually—to greet each with the openness we would offer a stranger. More often than not our experiences pass through our awareness more or less as mental, emotional, and sensory aggregates— a collection of details that appear as a singular, independent whole.” (p.15-16)