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Meditation As Avoidance

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, welcome back to your Daily Mindfulness. In today's session, we're going to talk about the relationship between meditation and avoidance. So if we're not careful, our meditation practice can surprisingly become a form of avoidance. We can use it to force our attention away from the parts of us that feel most painful, but actually need the most care, presence and compassion. And maybe you've seen this in your own practice at times.

Take a simple breath meditation, for instance. You're going through something difficult in your life. You're feeling a lot of emotion, maybe some difficult thoughts, and you come to your practice as a form of refuge, as a way to maybe step out of some of that. And you collect your attention at the breath as a way to center your focus, and all of that makes sense. It's part of the practice, it's what we're doing.

But there's a difference between naturally collecting our attention at the breath with the soft quality of presence and attunement versus feeling like we're using the breath to completely avoid everything that we're, that we're also experiencing. And it's, it often shows up in our relationship to the breath. If we feel like it's creating tension, like we're really forcing our attention there, it could be the breath, it could be a mantra or something else that you're focusing on. If we really feel like our peace can only come by focusing on this thing, there's a good chance that you're at war with some other part of yourself, some emotion, some thought, some other experience that is here right now. So this is a very common hiccup that we can fall into in meditation.

It's normal. It doesn't need to be another opportunity for us to beat ourselves up. But if you do find yourself caught up in this experience, here's a simple thing that you can do at the beginning of your meditation practice. First just sense, is there anything here that I'm pushing away, that I'm using my meditation practice to avoid? And then just say to that thing, you're welcome here too. This is a way to invite it into your awareness.

Then when you are doing something like focusing on your breath, feel as though all parts of you are focusing on the breath. You're breathing with the fullness of yourself, the part of you that might feel sad in that moment or angry in that moment or confused in that moment. We're not focusing on the breath to avoid those things. We're bringing all of that in. We're illuminating presence through those experiences, being with the breath through those experiences.

So it's as if the anger is attuned to the breath. It's as if the sadness is attuned to the breath. And yeah, the thoughts might be there, and we acknowledge them when they're there and then bring the attention back to the breath, rather than really forcing the attention away. Just a thought, like a cloud passing through the sky. But that somatic experience, the sensations that you're feeling, the emotions that are moving through you, all of that can be welcomed into your awareness so that presence gets illuminated through those experiences, rather than trying to develop presence inspite of those experiences.

Again, that's another way that we can actually dis-integrate from ourselves and use our practice to avoid the parts of us that need the most care, the most attention. And in addition to that, you might just need to do a different meditation. Instead of focusing on the breath, you might do a choiceless awareness meditation, where you just be and allow yourself to feel what you're feeling, not needing to turn the attention to something else or pay attention to the body or the breath or some phrase. Just let yourself be and relax into what is here. That might be an alternative practice that's most useful in those moments.

So give it a shot, something to consider in your meditation practice. Thank you for that practice. And let's settle in for today's meditation.

Cory Muscara

4.8

Meditation As Avoidance

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, welcome back to your Daily Mindfulness. In today's session, we're going to talk about the relationship between meditation and avoidance. So if we're not careful, our meditation practice can surprisingly become a form of avoidance. We can use it to force our attention away from the parts of us that feel most painful, but actually need the most care, presence and compassion. And maybe you've seen this in your own practice at times.

Take a simple breath meditation, for instance. You're going through something difficult in your life. You're feeling a lot of emotion, maybe some difficult thoughts, and you come to your practice as a form of refuge, as a way to maybe step out of some of that. And you collect your attention at the breath as a way to center your focus, and all of that makes sense. It's part of the practice, it's what we're doing.

But there's a difference between naturally collecting our attention at the breath with the soft quality of presence and attunement versus feeling like we're using the breath to completely avoid everything that we're, that we're also experiencing. And it's, it often shows up in our relationship to the breath. If we feel like it's creating tension, like we're really forcing our attention there, it could be the breath, it could be a mantra or something else that you're focusing on. If we really feel like our peace can only come by focusing on this thing, there's a good chance that you're at war with some other part of yourself, some emotion, some thought, some other experience that is here right now. So this is a very common hiccup that we can fall into in meditation.

It's normal. It doesn't need to be another opportunity for us to beat ourselves up. But if you do find yourself caught up in this experience, here's a simple thing that you can do at the beginning of your meditation practice. First just sense, is there anything here that I'm pushing away, that I'm using my meditation practice to avoid? And then just say to that thing, you're welcome here too. This is a way to invite it into your awareness.

Then when you are doing something like focusing on your breath, feel as though all parts of you are focusing on the breath. You're breathing with the fullness of yourself, the part of you that might feel sad in that moment or angry in that moment or confused in that moment. We're not focusing on the breath to avoid those things. We're bringing all of that in. We're illuminating presence through those experiences, being with the breath through those experiences.

So it's as if the anger is attuned to the breath. It's as if the sadness is attuned to the breath. And yeah, the thoughts might be there, and we acknowledge them when they're there and then bring the attention back to the breath, rather than really forcing the attention away. Just a thought, like a cloud passing through the sky. But that somatic experience, the sensations that you're feeling, the emotions that are moving through you, all of that can be welcomed into your awareness so that presence gets illuminated through those experiences, rather than trying to develop presence inspite of those experiences.

Again, that's another way that we can actually dis-integrate from ourselves and use our practice to avoid the parts of us that need the most care, the most attention. And in addition to that, you might just need to do a different meditation. Instead of focusing on the breath, you might do a choiceless awareness meditation, where you just be and allow yourself to feel what you're feeling, not needing to turn the attention to something else or pay attention to the body or the breath or some phrase. Just let yourself be and relax into what is here. That might be an alternative practice that's most useful in those moments.

So give it a shot, something to consider in your meditation practice. Thank you for that practice. And let's settle in for today's meditation.

Cory Muscara

4.8

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