Lost in a Sea of Jargon and Beyond
Lately, misconceptions about meditation and attending jargon have plagued my mind and kept me from attaining inner peace. I share a few with you in the hopes that I can get back on track and together we can all share some greater insight. Feel free to extend this list and share your wisdom with us:
- Inner peace doesn’t thrive without outer peace. Do what you can to clear the air or your space before clearing your mind.
2a. Clear the mind. Let go of thoughts, watch them come and go. Instructions like these are meant to be helpful, but can be frustrating instead if they add more thoughts or come with a bonus, like guilt or judgment. Be vigilant about what thoughts you clear and be clear about not inviting them back.
2b. Clearing the mind is not quite as simple as mowing the lawn. You may only be able to clear a few weedy thoughts, one day at a time.
3a. Empty the mind. Don’t. It’s not like dumping trash. The mind is never empty, not until you’re dead. And who knows what’s up after death? Have you ever asked a dead person if their mind is empty?
3b. Who wants an empty mind, anyway? Seems like it can get kind of boring.
- Watch your thoughts. How? With concentration as needed and by cutting them a little slack. Watching thoughts is like watching TV. Don’t pay too much attention, because the plots are usually familiar and dumb. Delete thoughts the way you would the dozens of episodes of your favorite shows. It’s likely you won’t miss them, but if you do, know that they are safely cued up somewhere in the DVR of your mind.
5a. Trust your inner voice but not completely. There are people who make simplistic claims, like that listening to their inner voice guided them to their soul mate or great fortune. You can, however, partially trust your inner voice, especially when it’s backed up by common sense, deep thought, or contemplation.
5b. Match your inner voice with gut instinct, especially when it comes to real estate.
- Channel the Masters. If channeling great spiritual beings works for you, go for it. For most mortals, a more practical approach is to change the channel until you get the station you want to listen to. Chances are the message you long to hear in your mind or meditation will come through. Be patient, though. It may take a day, a year, or decades to receive messages without static.
- Moses talked to God. Jesus was God. So what? Look where it got them.
- Listen to your heart. It’s a good idea if you have a history of heart disease. If not, listen at your own risk. You might come up against a painful emotion or two. If that’s the case, pay attention. Breathe, wait, create some space around the emotion, and allow it to wiggle away of its own accord. Don’t worry, it will probably come back. Meantime, enjoy the break and have some bliss.
9a. Negative emotions aren’t real. Do you ever notice that there are more negative emotions than positive ones, and they are harder to let go of? That’s because whoever created the human mind had a very mean sense of humor. So laugh at your mind-made misery. You can always try on different emotions. Pick the ones you like.
9b. Release suffering. If you are overly attached to suffering, repeat a mantra. If you don’t have a mantra, try “I am not my mind, I am the Self.” Even if you don’t understand what that means, so what? Real mantras come in ancient languages nobody understands. As for “all suffering is an illusion,” don’t even go there. When you’re suffering, your deluded mind will not grasp what an illusion is.
- Vanquish wrong identification. As you deepen your meditation practice, chip away at wrong identification. You would not call yourself by another person’s name, or put a wrong birth date on your driver’s license. So, the sages say, don’t identify with your ego or less than perfect self. Right identification according to Yogic scripture is “I am God,” or “I am One with the Divine.” If that’s too much to handle, start with “I am smart” before moving on to Divinity.
Mindfulness is a word. Behold, mindfulness or lack thereof, called by other names, has been around forever. Mystics and spiritual adepts of all traditions practiced meditation un-filtered and un-branded. Sometimes it was called prayer. Today we use the word “mindfulness” to refer to watching the mind, being aware of its ever-changing nature, regulating it through practices, and so on. There are people who love practicing mindfulness, and don’t mind the overuse of the word. Others skirt their way around its use and get very creative.
What we mean by the concept Mindfulness is beneficial. But it doesn’t always make people more mindful, just like meditation doesn’t always assure inner peace. Practitioners can still be pushy on lines, self-absorbed, dry-hearted, and unconscious. Mindfulness is aspirational, a practice and a path. Just because you do it doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it.
Words that describe practices are no substitutes for actual attainments and experiences. Meditation, mindfulness, and the family of “jargon” words that go with them are what we have to describe the indescribable, and will do for now. In other words, it’s good to know that margarine is not butter, and not a substitute for the word butter. What matters is what the spread tastes like on our muffins.
By Sheila Lewis June 28, 2015