A student recently asked me why anyone should do this practice of meditation, toward the end of the first class in our introduction series. One of the problems in our society or culture today is the need for instant gratification or instant results of our efforts.
Some students DID experience moments of freedom from the mind during the first exercises or practice. Some did not. Being with the mind and choosing a different point of focus is not easy.
There is a reason meditation is called PRACTICE. It is like any skill, you must practice in order to gain experience and build that skill. One does not sit down with an instrument and instantly know how to play. One does not pick a physical activity and immediately become an expert at it.
What is needed in order to learn any skill? Scheduling a time;A place to practice; Effort & energy; Determination and finally a benefit. What will be the end result of the work one puts in to learn a skill? Meditation is not like riding a bike, in terms of learning and keeping the skill. It is more like learning a language. If you do not use it, practice it regularly, you will lose it.
What are the benefits? Why would anyone want to BE PRESENT? Mindfulness has become a buzzword. There is much evidence these days of the benefits of mindfulness or being present. Stress-reduction, lowering anxiety, dealing with difficult feelings,better relationships and higher quality of life. But how? you may ask.
As we learn to become more mindful of what is in our minds, we will find what is holding us back, what is keeping us from moving through the world in the way we wish to.
As I told a friend, when I first began meditating, my mind doesn't push me around anymore. This can only be maintained by regular practice. The pathways which are the automatic routes will stay the same if we do not create new pathways. Sometimes these routes are so ingrained it can take a long time to recognize them. Mindfulness practices are the way to see clearly in areas that seem to be part of us or who we are. Only then can we address that which has us stuck.