Thursday, October 30, 2008

Related dimensions of turning yourself inward

  • Content to process: Instead of becoming engrossed in the meaning of what you’re sensing, thinking, or feeling, you can shift your interest and attention to how experiencing occurs — or to the mere fact of experience itself. For example, instead of getting lost in thinking or daydreaming, you can notice how your mind flits from thought to thought — or merely observe that you’re thinking. Instead of becoming transfixed by your fear or what you imagine it means or is trying to tell you, you can notice how the waves of tension move through your belly — or simply note that you’re feeling.
  • Outer to inner: Initially, you need to balance your usual tendency to be so outer-directed by paying particular attention to inner experience. Eventually, you’ll be able to bring the same quality of awareness to every experience, whether inner or outer.
  • Secondhand to direct: Even more helpful than inner and outer is the distinction between secondhand experience and direct experience. Secondhand experience has been filtered and distorted by the mind and is often concerned with thoughts about the past or future, whereas direct experience is only found in the present and accessed through the senses. In addition to turning inward, meditation involves turning your attention away from the story your mind spins about your experience and toward the direct experience itself.
  • Doing to being: You spend virtually all your waking hours rushing from one task or project or activity to another. Do you remember what it’s like to just be, the way you did when you were a baby or a little child, whiling away a summer afternoon just playing or lying in the grass? Meditation gives you the opportunity to make this crucial shift from doing to being.

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