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Submitted by Lawrence Grecco on Mon, 3/4/2013, 1:34pm
1. Meditation demonstrates that all things are interdependent and constantly changing. Initially, the realization that we’re all in a life situation that is fundamentally groundless may be quite daunting and even depressing. But it’s not the reality of groundlessness that’s the problem-it’s our resistance to it that causes us to experience difficult mind states ranging from a mild sense of discomfort to paralyzing bouts of depression or anxiety.
When we sit quietly or engage ourselves completely with whatever we happen to be doing, this fluid, dynamic process unfolds naturally before us and we can see that it’s all not as terrifying as we originally thought-and in fact, it is actually the means through which we can learn to live our lives with appreciation and joy.
2. Meditation helps us learn how to relate appropriately to our bodies, our feelings, our thoughts, and our perceptions. We normally misrelate to these four aspects of our experience by having an all-or-nothing approach to them: either we excessively attach or we view them as “the enemy” and the source of our discomfort. Meditation enables us to relate directly and clearly to these things and see them clearly as they are, not as we fear them to be or how we wish they were.
3. Meditation liberates us from having a narrow and damaging view of ourselves. The simple practice of quietly and fully paying attention to our moment-to-moment experience helps us understand that things are always changing and therefore don’t have to define who we are. When we realize this, we no longer have to be so beholden to the constantly fluctuating states of our bodies, minds, feelings and perceptions.
4. Meditation teaches us to stop making things. Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, “if you make something, then you’ll have something. If you don’t make anything, you will have everything.” Whatever happens within us and outside of us is rather innocuous, but our brains insist on judging, assessing, and trying to interpret our experience in ways that are usually very far removed from the simple reality of what’s happening. We pile on our opinions, ideas, concepts, fears and hopes onto whatever we perceive and end up with a facsimile of our experience rather than an accurate experience of our experience. Meditation trains us to have a direct and intimate relationship with each moment so that we can be fully immersed in our lives and live with more happiness, ease, and sanity.
5. Meditation transforms our relationship to pain and suffering. While painful feelings, sensations, and thoughts are unavoidable and uncontrollable aspects of life, we do have a choice as to how we relate to them. Applying mindfulness to every aspect of our daily life experience transforms the way in which we relate to pain so that it doesn’t have to take over and lead to suffering. This doesn’t mean we can ever prevent painful experiences from happening, but we can change the way in which we view these experiences so that they don’t snowball into a suffering situation. After all-pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.
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