Updated: Apr 29, 2021
When I sit for meditation, the first thing I do is to scan inside, assessing the inner weather map:
- Is there physical pressure anywhere?
- Is there any emotional disturbance?
- Are there any sensations of discomfort?
By taking a reading of my inner state, and then being present to whatever emerges I find I am able to circumvent the mental and physical restlessness that used to characterise my meditation practice.
Take this morning. As I was preparing for meditation, the thought crossed my mind: ‘This feels like one of those days when I am going to be distracted; when I’ll be lucky to last 5 minutes before I grab my phone to check whatever, or just give up completely. This is when I took a deep breath and then turned my attention to the inner climatic conditions.
At once I noticed a twinge of energy, like a coiled-up spring, rising from my left hip up through my abdomen. In the past I might have tried to excavate a story that connected this sensation to a disturbing incident in my childhood. If not a story, at least I’d try to identify what cocktail of emotions - fear, anger and sadness - were connected with this sensation, and in what proportion. Now I have come to understand that the most effective way to relate to inner disturbance is to simply acknowledge it, be present with it, accept it with kindness. And breathe. And after a few moments I experience some settling of the inner agitation. And interestingly this is accompanied by a sharper focus.
Now I can take my focus to the formal meditation practice. I am interested to note that now there is calm and centredness. I am still aware of the dance of energy moving in my being; that coiled spring is still doing its thing and there is some tightness in my left shoulder and jaw. And yet the overriding awareness is of peace and calm. I can rest here, knowing my being is being nourished and that, rather than distracting me, the energy pattern I’d noticed in that coiled up spring sensation has become somewhat integrated. It is no longer undermining my experience of wholeness, but rather supporting it. My mind can rest in its source, the heart.
Tomorrow, there may well be a different sensation showing up. And I can repeat the process.