Self-improvement through meditation is not the objective

Self-improvement through meditation is not the objective

When we begin to meditate or to engage with any type of spiritual practice, we often think that in some way we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are.

It’s kind of like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say, “If it weren’t for my partner, I’d have a perfect marriage.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”

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But lovingkindness— maitri (Pali, metta )—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

Lovingkindness— maitri (a popular form of Buddhist meditation) toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri is about befriending who we are already. It means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry.

The ground of practice for meditation is whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

Sitting meditation as a vehicle

Sitting meditation gives us a way to move closer to our thoughts and emotions and to get in touch with our bodies.

It is a method of cultivating unconditional friendliness toward ourselves and for parting the curtain of indifference that distances us from the suffering of others. It is our vehicle for learning to be a truly loving person.

Through meditation, we start to be aware of the gaps in our internal dialogue. In the midst of constantly talking to ourselves, we experience a pause, as if awakening from a dream.

We acknowledge our capacity to relax with the clarity, the space, and the awareness that already exists in our minds. We experience moments of being right in the "here and now" that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.

  • Seat: The seat should be flat (whether you’re sitting on a cushion on the floor or in a chair), not tilting to the right or left, or to the back or front.
  • Legs : The legs should be crossed comfortably in front of you or flat on the floor, with the knees a few inches apart (if you’re sitting in a chair).
  • Torso : Keep your torso (from the head to the seat) upright, with a strong back and an open front. If sitting in a chair, it’s best not to lean back.
  • Hands : Keep your hands open, with palms down, resting on the thighs.
  • Eyes : Keep your eyes open, indicating the attitude of remaining awake and relaxed with all that occurs. The eye gaze should be somewhat downward, directed about 4 to 6 feet in front of you.
  • Mouth : The mouth should be very slightly open so that the jaw is relaxed and air can move easily through the mouth and nose; the tip of the tongue can be placed on the roof of the mouth.

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Self Improvement

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IDEAS

What mindfulness is

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

What Meditation Is

Meditation is being attentive to the fluctuations of your mind. 

Most of the time, we completely identify with our own thoughts, meaning there is no separation between the thoughts and the thinker. Meditation begins to break down this relationship. 

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