No matter what your outer circumstances, there is always, within you, a potential for flourishing. This is a latent potential for loving-kindness, compassion, inner peace, and great happiness. I believe it is worth trying to experience this ever-present potential — it is a precious, precious gem.
But this dormant potential needs to be intentionally developed and matured in order to achieve a more stable sense of well-being, and this does not happen by itself…it is learned through practice. You can learn to play a musical instrument, a particular sport, speak a foreign language, and so you can also learn how to thrive with a deep sense of wellbeing. For that, we must all start by becoming more familiar with our own minds. This is the beginning of observational meditation. So here’s my basic 5 step introductory lesson 1.01 to Observational Meditation:
- Sit quietly, in a comfortable but balanced posture. Whether you sit cross-legged on a cushion or more conventionally on a chair, doesn’t matter, just try to keep your back straight, yet without being tense. Rest your hand on your knees or thighs or in your lap, wherever they naturally rest. It’s a good idea to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, ideally with a soft alarm.
- As you get into this position, keep your eyes lightly gazing into the space in front of you and breathe naturally. Allow the eyes to close if you prefer.
- Now try to notice what thoughts pop into your mind, the coming and going of different thoughts. At first, it might seem that instead of diminishing, thoughts rush through your mind like a waterfall.
- Don’t try to quieten them, just notice how they arise and lead onto something else, and are replaced by other thoughts. Let them come and go without trying to stop them, but without fuelling them either. Try to keep observing the thoughts objectively, like a scientist observing an experiment. If you notice you get caught up in a thought, try to take a step back and remember we are just observing the natural habit patterns of the mind right now, we can return to the thought later, but right now we are trying to observe how the mind currently behaves. If your mind is easily distracted, with many thoughts of the future, the past and other ideas, notice how it is. This is precisely what meditation is.
- Take a moment at the end of the practice to consider what you have learned. Any surprises? Any resulting feelings?
If you continue to practice, the waterfall of thoughts will become like a peaceful river. If you practice regularly, eventually your mind will easily become serene, like a calm ocean, allowing you to focus, to feel contented, happy, peaceful, loving etc.
If you want to develop your potential a little further, my clients find the free headspace program to be the best introduction for beginner meditators. If you want to augment your potential a little further still, get in touch and you and I can develop a personalised happiness training plan together, to help you truly flourish.
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