During an afternoon Mentoring circle in Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC) yesterday, I led a meditation. The meditation was on awareness. Initially I asked the men present to bring their awareness to the breath as a means to focus ourselves and to quiet the mind. To move away from the busyness of the day to the be present in where they were now.

Next I led us on a scan through the body, bringing our awareness to sensations in the body and using that light of awareness to relax and let go of areas of tension.

Finally, I invited everyone to scan back up through the body, to sit with that silence and stillness that awareness had brought to them. I reminded everyone how that stillness is available to us at all time, standing in line, resting in bed, we just have to bring the light of awareness to our breath and our body.

As the meditation drew to a close, my co-facilitator read out the following quote. I don’t know who it is attributed to, but for me it speaks to the places that we run to in order to escape that which we do not like in our lives or about ourselves. It is the place where addiction can spring from. Meditation offers one solution, or a part of a solution to making friends with and gaining control over the agitation in our mind.

My sense is that as part of a meditation practice, it could be helpful to reflect regularly on this piece.

As you settle into your breathing, you may notice your mind telling stories, trying to solve problems, taking you away from your breath and your body? Why? Perhaps there is something there we don’t want to experience: Shame, fear, anger, sadness, feeling unloved. We hate these feelings, so we do what we can to avoid them. All addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and just can’t stand it. So we drink, use drugs, eat, blame, argue, fight, look for excitement, zone out - anything to avoid feeling those unpleasant feelings, many of which have been with us since childhood. And the most common addiction of all is thinking. Often we think to avoid feeling. We think because we believe we can find a solution to avoid our pain and suffering.

So now, come back to the breath and notice how it feels. Are you trying not to feel something? What is it? See if you can just be with it.