Meditation is a complex artform. It consists of skills within skills and challenges within challenges. All of them are valuable, as they train your mind to function in a smoother, more effective way.
One important task is probably the most difficult. Everyone comes from different histories and personalities, so maybe you find this easier than others do. Having said that, most of you will struggle with this at first.
It isn’t holding your attention stable.
It isn’t quieting your mind in a relaxed, easy way.
What is it? It’s nothing short of accepting your thoughts without judgement.
Judging your own experience is human. It’s even useful – I won’t deny that. But most, if not all of your suffering comes from this place.
At some point in your childhood, you experienced a series of sensations. Someone said you looked angry (and to cut it out and cheer up). In that moment, your young mind labelled a sensation as anger, and accepted a judgement of it.
This happened throughout your life. Sensations paired themselves to labels and judgements because that’s what society told you.
There are cultures where anger is seen as a character flaw and others where it’s a sign of a strong spirit.
You might not think this labelling and judgement applies to everything. After all, babies cry at the slightest discomfort, let alone pain. Surely we can agree that pain is a bad thing.
Maybe. And yet how you respond to pain changes how it feels. As Buddhism teaches us:
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Don’t believe me? The entire S&M culture thinks very differently about pain. They experience the sensation and then judge it in their own way.
This is what’s so challenging about this. We’re used to judging, labelling and assessing our experience. Is this ache worth checking out? Am I hungry or just tired? What would make this meal even better?
It’s hard enough to suspend judgement on physical things. Thoughts are abstract. Separating them from your judgements is not easy.
This is worth it, though. Imagine losing all of the negativity around an experience. No one is freer than someone who genuinely loves their prison.
What’s the technique for accepting your own thoughts?
Whatever floats through your mind is good, proper and perfect.
When meditating, you don’t want a tumble of distracting thoughts, but you don’t violently suppress your thinking. As always, you release your thoughts in a calm and gentle way.
Do this while you’re accepting your thoughts for what they are and you’ll unlock incredible wisdom.
This radical acceptance is a valuable tool for life. When you trust your own mind, everything in life becomes easier.
It’s a key ingredient in self-hypnosis, too.
If you want to reach a meditative state via a whole different path, read on: