Thursday, 8 March 2012

The butterfly of awareness lands on the flower of breath

I wasn't sure at first whether I would be able to meditate every day, but I’m pleased to say I have and now it's become something I look forward to. 

Sometimes I’m successful in persuading the monkeys in my mind to quieten down for a little so that I can allow awareness of my breathing.  Sometimes my thoughts keep jumping up and down, clamouring for attention. Over time, so the great meditators of world tell us, it gets easier.

A breakthrough occurred to me, roughly on day two, when I realised I was controlling my breathing.  This is something I've always done to manage stress. When I deliberately relax I take deep controlled breaths from the diaphragm, allowing my belly to expand on the in breath and to relax on the out breath.  However on listening to the meditation instructions again, this particular meditation is passive.  There is no controlling of the breath or slowing the breath, there is simply an awareness of the breath as it happens, whether that's short and shallow or long and deep.  Just allow the breath to happen naturally and follow it with your awareness.  When I understood this, I sank into my body and simply let the waves of the breath wash over me.  It was comforting, deeply relaxing and brand new. 

Some days I’ve managed to achieve peace.  But of course then comes the second trap; the wish to achieve.

 Ho hum.

Of course I want to acieve…I want to heal my body of pain. I want to become enlightenend…but the very act of wanting, grasping, wishing and hoping, during meditation, is enough to stop it from happening. 

Thich Nhat Hahn says the layer of conciousness that allows healing is below that of concious thought. So if you use meditation to access that area of the mind, healing can occur. This is new for me and very exciting.

Up to now I’ve used relaxation, concentration type meditation and visualisation. I’ve managed my pain pretty well, but…this new approach could be the key that unlocks a new life for me. A life where I can travel to see my family, enjoy the dignity of earning money and get out of my local neighbourhood and seek new horizons. These are things I will enjoy when I'm well again.

Here’s a poem I wrote many many years ago when I met my  Tibetan teacher, Lama Chime Rinpoche in 1985.
I went down to Marpa house to live in a retreat,
To maybe learn to meditate and get back on my feet.
But all I found was silence, it made me feel quite queer.
The only thing that Chime said was, "never mind me dear."

I went in to the shrine room, ‘cos my head was in a state.
I got a comfy cushion and began to meditate.
Though I sat in an hour and I never made a sound,
I couldn't stop my thoughts from going round and round and round.

The Lama then explain to me, he said it's very simple,
You're making a great mountain from a tiny little pimple.
There isn't any answer, there’s no rule of thumb.
You've got to find your own way out,
Om Mane Peme Hum.

Of course he didn’t actually say these things, it just seemed a fun poem at the time.

here is a short clip of Chime talking about thinking



  1. This is all a bit deep for me but I don't doubt its effectiveness if it works for you.
    A few of the creative workshops I've been on have described the subconscious as the map of the mind, storing all your knowledge and experience. If only you could unlock it.
    I've also seen an article recently where scientists have worked out how much of our decision making is done by the subconscious. We think we're in charge of our lives but, in fact, the conscious mind only does a small proportion of the work.
    Good luck with the meditation.

  2. That's exactly it. If we allow it, the deeper layer can do the healing work, but for that to happen the thinking layers need to take a rest.
    I'm not sure how well I'm doing on the mindfulness bit...I set my timer for forty five hours the other day instead of forty five minutes! Time seemed to be going v e r y slowly, until I realsied. doh!