This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube (and are now archived on my YouTube page). If you have any questions, please contact me.
I want to finish up the May Meditation Nudges with a short reflection on what external support we can offer our meditation practice. By that I mean, what we can do away from our formal meditation practice, out in our daily life, to aid our meditation practice.
When I say the “meditation”, I think of someone sitting cross legged on a cushion, motionless and quiet, engaged in some sort of internal activity. However, meditation does not happen in isolation of our time on the meditation cushion. In the same way that our meditation practice can effect how we are in our daily life, so can how we act in our daily life effects our time meditating.
When we sit to meditate, we bring our state of mind in that moment to our practice. If we are feeling peaceful, that will be a basis for our practice. If we are feeling upset, that will be present as we sit. If we are feeling annoyed or angry, that annoyance and the story behind it will be a distracting presence through our time sitting.
So if we can maintain an awareness of our state of mind while we are out and about, it can aid what we bring to the cushion. Easier said than done, yes, but if we implement some guidelines that process can be helped.
This is where what I am calling Boundaries comes in.
A boundary is a voluntary course of action that you choose to bring into your life to help you in your meditation practice. What might this look like?
First notice the emphasis on ‘voluntary’. You are not being made to do anything. Rather you are choosing to do something because of the benefits that you see that you will receive it. How your choice will serve you in training your mind. This is about looking honestly at our actions and asking ourselves what is serving us and what is not? What actions are beneficial and which are hurting us and/or others? How certain ways of being create an agitation, a tendency in the mind to act. These tendencies or habits sit in the mind waiting for the right causes to come along and then we act. By training ourselves not to act in a given way, the mind becomes more stable, more peaceful. Let me explore an example.
Perhaps I have a tendency to speak ill of people. With my meditation practice in mind, I ask myself honestly how this is serving me? Am I a better person because of this? Is this a habit that I want to take into the future, or would I like to change this way of being? I choose to change this habit and so I decide to refrain from speaking ill of people - that is a boundary I choose to bring into my life. Now being honest with myself I know that I am not going to be able to stop doing this overnight. It might be a well ingrained habit. So I slip back into old habits at times. To support myself, I can bring a small practice into my life.
- When I wake up in the morning I resolve to myself that I will not engage in speaking ill of people
- As I go through the day I use awareness and mindfulness to watch what I say and think.
- If I slip up and catch myself doing what I am trying not to do, I use as best I can (in the situation that I am in) the same tools that I use in my meditation practice - when I break into my old habits, I note it and with no judgement change what I am doing.
- At the end of the day I review how I got on. Where I kept to my intended path, I celebrate. Where I slipped up, I deepen my resolve to break from old habits.
- This is not about harsh judgement and beating myself up for mistakes made, rather an honest recognition of where I want to get to and what I want to leave behind.
- Having an accountability buddy, somebody who supports you in your aims can also be helpful. Someone who from time to time you checkin with. Someone who doesn’t judge you, but is behind you in your goals and can offer encouragement.
I invite you to pick a habit or two that is not serving you, and bring this simple practice in to help your meditation practice.