The distance needed to traverse from anxiety to serenity depends mostly on the time frame you use to measure it. In the beginning of my practice when I would sit down to meditate, within in a matter of minutes, I would find my quiet place, my stillness. While it was such a relief, it only lasted until I opened my eyes and re-engaged with the world; as I watched my mind shout at me “that’s great, but now what?”
It took me many years to realize that meditation was just one side of the coin. While I could sense that with each meditation there was an additional increment or a “marination of stillness” into my consciousness it still seemed to be a slow process. I would have quit meditation for sure except for that fact that my teacher kept me honed into the goal and payoff at the end of road.
Nevertheless, I was still impatient with this pace and after many years of frustration began to search for a complement to meditation that would help bridge the gap between absolute stillness and dynamic activity. I discovered that Mindfulness is the sidekick to Meditation. Mindfulness is the expression of meditation that is activity and stillness – all in one. Practiced together they are the dynamic duo that strengthens each other and puts our inner demons on permanent notice.
For many people meditation appears to be an abstract practice, in the sense that there doesn’t seem to be a way to measure its overall success because one’s experience may vary greatly, between meditations, or for that matter, from one practitioner to another. So many quit or become infrequent due to a series of mental or physical experiences that may be unexpected, uncomfortable, or inexplicable.
There are three basic stages in the growth cycle in one’s journey, using meditation, from anxiety to serenity. The first stage is being grounded in the fundamental dynamics of meditation practice.
So my first goal when teaching meditation is to share the optimum “mindset” going into the practice. My second goal is to share the powerful fundamental dynamics of meditation. When someone understands this foundational stage of meditation then any experience one has is understood. When we understand what is happening and why, we are less likely to quit due to doubt. Don’t we all want to know what’s going on?
Now the stage is set for the third goal of introducing Mindfulness into the meditation practice. When we are grounded in our stillness with the eyes closed it is so much easier to recognize that stillness through Mindfulness, when the eyes are open.
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