My favourite part of meditation is when I am not “officially meditating” and I notice that gentle and curious awareness I occasionally feel on the cushion arise during a different part of my day. Consequently I loved the chapter in Pema Chodron’s How to Meditate where she talks about are the 5 qualities to bring to your meditation that as a result you should also be able to see develop in your daily life from your meditation.
I also like them because they are a more detailed version of the three approaches she discussed in When Things Fall Apart: precision, gentleness and letting go. (I wrote about this here )
Below is merely some brief notes on what Pema Chodron said with a couple of my own small additions.
- It’s like a loyalty to ourselves or more accurately our experiences.
- It’s an approach “that whatever comes up, that’s ok”
- Maybe you sit down and for 20 minutes your mind is a rage. Don’t be hard on yourself, you stayed with that for the whole session, so well done!
- It’s a gesture of compassion to yourself
- In meditation we start to notice when we start to spin off into one of our chains of thoughts. This is clear seeing
- By being steadfast we begin to see ourselves so much more clearly
- This clear seeing includes our judgements, our patterns, our opinions, our defence mechanisms and our ingrained habits
- The first two qualities lead to this one, but it grows only slowly
- The courage to experience and not bury and deny your emotional discomforts
- The courage to not to cower before your emotional discomforts
- The courage not to shift into a fantasy or a distraction before your emotional discomforts
- If we get this courage we can get an insight into how we are or how the world is
- We can have a minor change in our world view
- This courage means we can ‘loosen up our conditioning’
Being awake to our lives
- Being awake to the present moment and all the surprises this will always bring
- We say we like surprise and thrills, but …
- This is being awake to the next (because there is always another one) embarrassing moment when we lose our composure and patience.
- It’s about being more flexible and tolerant to the present moment.
- And with it as a by product comes humour
No big deal
- Just like that calmness you have when you say ‘thinking’ during a meditation session
- Don’t make your problems so big you end up running yourself down and wallowing in them
- Don’t make any progress feel so great that your pride gets in the way and knocks the stuffing out of your practice next time