Sunday, February 3, 2008

Designing your own practice

When you begin to develop and direct your awareness in meditation, you’re faced with the challenge of putting all the pieces together into an integrated practice that’s uniquely suited to your needs. For example, you may find yourself drawn to forms of meditation that emphasize focused concentration and have only minimal interest in the more open, allowing quality of receptive awareness. Or you may cherish the peace and relaxation you experience when you simply sit quietly without any effort or focus, not even the effort to be aware. Or you may have a specific purpose for meditating, such as healing an illness or resolving a disturbing psychological issue, and only feel drawn to approaches that help you meet your goals.

The key is to experiment with different forms of meditation and trust your intuition to tell you which ones are best suited for you at this particular point on your journey up the mountain. Inevitably, yin and yang tend to balance each other out; that is, you may start out with intense concentration and end up with more relaxed, receptive awareness — or begin in a more receptive mode and gradually discover the virtues of focus.

The journey of meditation has its own lessons to teach, and no matter what your intentions may be, you’ll generally end up encountering those lessons that you were destined to learn. Of course, if you intend to maintain your practice from week to week and month to month, which is the only way to reap the benefits of meditation, you’ll probably need to draw on some of those time-honored qualities that every sustained enterprise requires: motivation, discipline, and commitment.

Though they’ve gotten a bad rap in Western culture, where people generally expect to have their needs met right now, if not sooner, these qualities are actually not difficult to cultivate and in fact arise naturally when you’re engaged in and — dare I say it — passionate about what you’re doing.

No comments: