August 30th, 2009 4:59 PM by Lehel Szucs
A New Meditation for Busy People - By Steven Sashen
It's said that the Buddha admonished his students not to believe anything just because it's taught by teachers or appears in sacred books but, instead, to examine carefully for yourself. So, let's look at some ideas about meditation.
I have often wondered about the phrase "meditation practice." Tell me, just what are you practicing for? Most people say they are doing meditation practice to improve other parts of their lives that don't have anything to do with meditation.
In what other field do you try to improve at something specific by doing some other practice entirely? Do you know any violinists who practice with golf? Obviously not. Violinists practice the violin. Golfers practice golf, and physicists work on physics problems.
Sitting meditation practice is great... if you want to practice your sitting.
Somehow we got the idea that in meditation you can leave your daily life behind, go somewhere to practice some unusual mental task off in a corner somewhere -- like trying to stop your thoughts or paying undivided attention to your breath -- and then bring back into your daily life whatever you got from your trip.
That seems like it makes sense, especially when enough teachers say that's the way it works. But how reliable is it? And even if it does work, is it the most efficient way to get the benefits you desire?
I ask because I've had many discussions with meditation teachers and lifelong meditators who tell me: "After meditating for 40+ years, I still get annoyed when my husband says something rude, or when my kids break something in my kitchen, or when someone cuts me off in traffic. And really, I don't make a lot of money and I have trouble being around my mother and father, and..." They like to top it off with, "But boy you should have seen what I was like before meditation."
There are people who attempt to do their daily activities in what we think of as a meditative fashion, saying they are "practicing for living." Like, they move slowly, or pay very close attention to dish washing, or do one thing at a time. This also doesn't seem like a good way to practice for the way people actually live, because it is unusual to actually do one thing at a time or to move particularly slowly in our real lives.
When you start asking questions about the fundamental ideas behind meditation, it raises some other questions, like: Are there meditation techniques that don't require you to leave your life (even for 20 minutes), but let you practice in your actual, daily life? Is there a way to get the benefits of meditation now, rather than hoping for a carry-over effect after I'm done? Are there techniques that work with the way my mind and life work (for me, that means "busy"), rather than asking me to try to change what, well, seems resistant to change?
Just by asking these questions, by putting the Buddha's admonition into practice, even if you don't find answers, you'll find a whole new dimension in your meditation practice.
About the Author: Steven Sashen is the developer of the Instant Advanced Meditation Course, which Dr. Gay Hendricks calls "Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to relax, expand awareness, and find deep inner peace." To celebrate the anniversary of the course and Steven's birthday, you can get the I AM Course for half price until midnight, June 12th. Go here to learn more.