For folks who are just starting this journey of mindfulness meditation, it can be rough going. I think the hardest part of this process is getting started, getting past the initial big bumps on the road.
We get a to see that we often spend our a lot of our day absorbed in unconscious and unproductive thinking, addictively replaying the same mental patterns, the same old stories, over and over in our heads like worn-out vinyl records.
Rather than being a helpful tool to be picked up and used when required, the mind can sometimes turn into an out of control beast of our own making. Take for example, hard core addictions. The problem is most of us do not have the tools to apply the brakes to this beast.
Addictive thinking is the “yuge” (sorry Bernie and Donald, couldn’t resist) source of our discomfort. If you are feeling unhappy or troubled, it’s probably because you are going over in your head something that is bringing discomfort about.
Mindfulness meditation is one very effective treatment for our unhealthy obsession with unproductive thinking. But another “yuge” warning here: If you decide to enter into this way, the first thing you may find is that it can be boring.
It is crucial to understand this: meditation can be boring. Meditation can be irritating. It can be frustrating. It can be deadly tedious – especially in the initial stages, and especially if you are an active, intelligent, and creative person.
But if you are a lethargic, melancholic couch potato like me, it can be a different kind of boring. A mellow boring, conducive to napping.
And staying hooked.
Mindfulness meditation is simply setting aside some time to go without a fix of this kind of obsessive, compulsive, nonproductive thinking.
In the beginning of this process, it’s absolutely critical to “give peace a chance” and at least take it on faith that being constantly hooked into distress causing thought patterns is way more of a bummer than the withdrawal process itself.
Exploring this analogy a little further: unlike the often unbearable opiate withdrawal symptoms, just as an example, addictive thought withdrawal can be quite bearable with patience, and become an incredibility rich and rewarding crucible of self-discovery and reward.
A wealth of inner treasures begin to emerge when we settle into that space in our mind that recognizes compulsive, nonproductive thought in vivo. As we loosen the often white-knuckled thought-grip we experience openness, clarity and a wonderful delight in experiencing things just as they are.
As one Buddhist teacher said, we discover that thought as having textures, tones, and dimensions.
We develop the ability to experience thought spatially.
We can then allow thought to melt like snowflakes on a lake.
Or as one Mahayana text says, like a snake which has tied itself in a knot, undoing its own knot.