So, this morning full of positive intention I settled into my meditation practice, a guided 25 minute practice. I was feeling settled, nothing to race out and do, no to-do list rattling around in my head, no noises from the great outdoors to challenge my zen.
And then wham, mind wander, epic mind wander, off on its own little tangent and fully embroiled in a story I'd made up. I also realised that this little journey of thoughts that I'd gone on, I'd actively chosen, I chose in the moment – bored with the meditation, to continue off in this little whimsy world I'd concocted in my head. The voice of the meditation teacher a mere backdrop to the story I was busy unfolding.
Why do we do this? When we know the practice is there to support us, what is it about preference, or daydreaming that feels as though it brings us more joy than the present moment? It's simple really, often the present moment isn't exactly brimming with excitement, often the present moment has underlying worries, or fears, and telling ourselves stories can feel a far kinder place. Often too those daydreams can herald creative thoughts, problem-solving, but also rumination, chewing on something we cannot control…and those types of activities are addictive to our minds also. Our minds like to be kept busy even at what may seem like a relative state of rest.
So I chose in that moment to go off on a tangent and down the path of the preferred daydream, I willingly abandoned my practice although I was still patting myself subconsciously on the back and therefore massively lying to myself because I was still in repose! Oh, the fibs we tell ourselves 'eh 😉
And again, preference also has a big part to play, we prefer a sugary high, that chocolate fruit and nut bar over a banana, but we know the banana will provide us more nourishment…the same for meditation.
To grow in our capacity to better manage impulses, or to gain better control over our mind and it's wandering, we benefit from in the moment awareness, recognising our preferences and tendencies, and pulling ourselves consciously back to our practice. It may not be our preference, but this ability supports our overall well-being far more than we can see or feel in that moment.
Of course it's always our choice, and if like me today, you are choosing easy over hard; mind-wander over practice then go for it, but if like me the little disappointed voice that appeared when the timer went off and I'd realised I'd spent that 25 minutes in less fruitful and life-affirming behaviour, know always have a choice. That choice may be to be kind, accepting in that moment, that we do not call it a 'practice' for nothing. We grow in each opportunity we take to our metaphorical meditation cushion when we learn, sit, and observe our behaviours. So, take that choice – and see what it teaches you. What do you notice about abandoning your practice, or learn to delve a little deeper and look at your thought preferences, resistances, and engagement?
Come back to the keystones of mindfulness practices – honour yourself, trust in the process, suspend judgement, apply curiosity, and remember to have fun with it!