It is possible to over exert in meditation and get a bit of tunnel vision. We lose the nuanced detail and become preoccupied with ‘goals’ and ‘beliefs’. These things are useful in their place but when being mindful it’s well to remember there are things in our awareness that don’t have names or forms. Grief, anxiety – they have ambiguity and take time to witness. Trying to quickly shoe-horn these things into a yes-or-no question rarely ends well.
I’ll be talking about this in my Thursday night meditation class, because when we meditate we can become focused in a hard, rigid way, and that defeats the purpose of opening and becoming aware.
Mindfulness often occurs in the corner of the mind’s eye; we spy a shape, we remember a noise, we feel a certain way. It’s indefinite and indeterminate but it’s suggestive and observable. So we sit quietly and let it reveal itself. Like a skillful bird watcher, rather than scaring the birds away by going to look for them he sits quietly and lets the birds present themselves in their own time.
So be careful with your intentions. Be skillful with what you ask of yourself. Deadlines and expectations can create a pressure that destroys the subtler mindfulness. We lose our peripheral vision and can only see the things we already know; we are frustrated before we start.
The Tibetan master knew what he was saying when he compared the delusions to naughty school boys. Delusions are not always terrible monsters. Sometimes they are errant kids who are good at heart, just a little out of control. The old meditation master is firm and kind with his monkey-like school children. In the same way, we are firm and kind with ourselves and our delusions.
It is always good practice to have a warm heart before you do or start anything. This is our powerful act of self love, and it protects us from hurting ourselves and others. Mindfulness practiced with the good heart of kindness always brings us to inner peace. Our awareness is soft, there is no judgement or anger, just a responding to the moment with acceptance and sensitivity.