This is how the Buddhist nun and celebrated teacher Pema Chodron describes the process of addressing the thoughts that arise during meditation in her brilliant audiobook, “Getting Unstuck”.
Right. If you’re like me, a mental shotgun might be helpful for this process. A conscious one that shoots love pellets and smells like sage, of course.
Regarding meditation, I’d like to propose a thought experiment. It starts with this question: How critical is meditation to real, deep and lasting cultural change?
I propose that it’s not only helpful, but that it’s the foundation of anything meaningful when it comes to the type of shift that we want to experience, one that will literally save humanity from egoic self-destruction. This is so because meditation is the only way to train ourselves to deeply comprehend what’s going on from a state of dis-identification with it. It’s the same state that we practice when we close our eyes and observe our thoughts rising like bubbles.
And why is dis-identification so critical? Let me begin to answer that question with another one.
What would happen if, during your meditation, you were triggered emotionally every time a thought came up? Or if a “favorite thought” came up and you just melted into it the whole time you were meditating?
I have a friend that experienced this once. Ok, it was me. Often.
The point of meditation, if there is one, is to see one’s own thoughts. This is an oversimplification, but bear with me. The idea is that by seeing thoughts rise and fall away again, one becomes aware of The One Who Sees. We sense that this One is calm, dis-identified with the human drama, even one’s own. We realize that the One is much closer to who we are than that which we usually think ourselves to be. There are many reasons to meditate, including having no reason at all, but this is one of my favorites. It’s been tremendously helpful to me and perpetuated a monumental shift in my life. Maybe you can relate to this.
To further flesh this out, it’s significant to note that meditation was never meant to be something you do, and then go about your day. The practice of meditation in the controlled confines of studio or dedicated sacred space is just that: practice. Just as a basketball team needs time to practice away from game time, we need time in a “safe space” to get us ready to face the office environment, family, friends or the zillion other triggers that life in western culture provides. But our 5-15 minutes in the morning before we rush into traffic, double-shot latte in hand, was never meant to be the totality.
What does this have to do with social change?… Check out the rest of the story in Face the Current March edition pages 34 – 37, subscribe here!
About the author
Eric “Aspen” Marley is a writer, teacher and shamanic practitioner living in Central Oregon in a tipi near the Deschutes River. His passion is creating community through indigenous spirituality, namely through the Lakota and Laika/Earth Keeper ways.
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