Concentrating our hearts and minds
We often experience ourselves as just that, selves plural. It’s difficult to make decisions and stay with them. Sometimes we can seem to be just a bundle of conflicting desires. Meditation can help us calm this state of affairs by helping us to become more of an individual. With awareness we can begin to listen to all the conflicting parts of us and in time, if we care to, we can discern our deeper values. Our awareness of these values can allow them to give a clearer sense of direction to our lives, bringing the experience of the satisfaction of living lives that feel more strongly our own.
Meditation helps us to achieve an integrated awareness, which allows our minds and emotions to be in ever deeper harmony. When we concentrate in meditation we need to work gently and firmly to produce greater and greater emotional engagement with the object of our experience. Part of this is process is becoming more and more aware of how we produce our own distraction. If we want to live creatively then we need a greater and greater engagement with our experience.
Usually we can’t experience things very fully because we are very caught up in what we want our experience to be like, this can manifest as either craving or aversion. If we can be receptive to what is actually happening even very simple experiences can be richly rewarding. We can learn this directly through the very simple practice of observing our breath.
If we are mindful of our breath, concentrating our minds with an engaged and appropriate awareness, the simple experience of breathing can be an adventure. If we can allow ourselves to find a curious and open awareness of the breath, without controlling it we can experience great riches.
We commence our practice by setting up our posture so that we will be comfortable and alert. Then settling into a broad awareness of our body, emotions and thought, we notice the breath. Notice as much as we possibly can about the breath, its speed, rhythm, temperature, texture or any qualities that we feel it might have for example, vibrancy. At first the most important part of the practice is to simply reset our attention every time it wanders away from the breath. We create a tread of awareness with the breath. At first there may still be background thoughts or a part of our mind paying attention to external noise. This is normal, we just continue to strengthen and thicken the thread.