The Mindfulness Blog

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Life Is Like A Box Of Choclates

It's true of a box of chocolates, and it's certainly true of meditation-- you never know what you're going to get.

Some days, the thoughts and emotions that come up are pretty much what we might expect. Other days, observing our mind is more like riding a bucking bronco. Some days, the thoughts and emotions are random, seemingly unrelated, and easy to let pass. Other days, the same thought or emotion (or obviously related thoughts or emotions) keep popping up, again and again. That's when we discover that the mind has something it really wants or needs to chew on, and our meditation becomes something more closely akin to contemplation.

Whatever may be the case, I've learned not to fight it. Whatever comes up, will come up of it's own volition, and there is little (if anything) any of us can do to control it. And that's OK-- both meditation and contemplation are necessary, and good. Alternatively, if the mind is active and needs to have some structure, there is always metta, or loving-kindness meditation-- which is always a good choice.

Observing the mind as it thinks thoughts, is a bit like watching a movie-- sometimes there is an obvious plot line that is easy to follow; sometimes there doesn't seem to be a plot line at all-- everything that happens appears to be completely unrelated to other events. The key is to sit back and enjoy the show--reacting, or judging, isn't particularly helpful. As a matter of fact, it usually gets in the way.

That's not to say that the trigger of reactivity won't happen-- it almost certainly will. And that's not to say we should repress the trigger when it does happen. Rather, we want to work on not allowing the trigger to own us-- to control what we say or do. We want to work on responding skillfully, rather than blindly reacting.

Mindfulness, like meditation, can be full of surprises. The trick is to be open to, and accepting of, those surprises. The vast majority of the time, we can't control what comes our way-- we can, however, control how we respond, and that's where mindfulness and meditation become very real. As Jon Kabat-Zinn is quoted as having said: "We can't stop the waves, but we can learn to surf".

Observe the waves. Be curious about them. Feel them. Notice them. Then let them pass. Let the waves roll, and let them break, as most certainly, they will. Stay buoyant, sit strong on your "surfboard", and enjoy the ride-- it sure beats the alternative.

Open that box of chocolates--you may not know exactly what you're going to get, but it will almost certainly be interesting. And it will likely be sweet!


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