The Most Common Mistake in Meditation Practice & How to Correct it.

People come to meditation because they are stressed out.

They are stuck between their ears, disembodied. They want to arrest the feverish pace of thought and abide peacefully in the present moment.

Simply put, they want to get out of their head. But they don't know where to go. They don't know what it means to move beyond the thinking mind.

Getting out of the head means, for most, stop thinking. So they take a seat and try to silence their mind. But the only resource available to them is thought, so they start thinking about not thinking, which, needless to say, is a frustrating exercise in futility.

Mindfulness practice is not about concentrated attention. It is the thinking that seeks to concentrate the spectrum of awareness upon a single point. When we are navigating rush hour traffic at the end of a long day, the thinking mind reduces the multitude of sights and sounds down to only those features of the present moment pertinent to the task at hand, making it home safe. This is undoubtedly necessary but nevertheless stressful. It, however, is not the aim of meditation practice.

In the context of mindfulness, "mind" does not mean brain. We are not talking about brainfulness. "Mind" means awareness. Mindfulness is the fullness of awareness.

In mindfulness practice our awareness is relaxed, not concentrated. It's no longer monopolized by the thinking mind. Meditation enables our awareness to pour out into the fullness of our person, into the body. Only a somatic reference point, like the breath or posture, can interrupt our tendency to think about our own thoughts, enabling us to escape the claustrophobic world between our ears. Mindfulness is embodiment, presence.

Don't try to get out of the head. Just reconnect with the body. When you notice your mind drifting off, simply feel the breath, the heartbeat, the blood flowing through your body. No more, no less. Any more is elaboration and any less is lethargy.

To get out of the head is to return to the body. Meditation practice is about embracing the fullness of our life. The Life of the body is too rich and vast to be held within the tunnel vision of the thinking mind. However, the undifferentiated awareness of the body is expansive enough to include the life of the mind. In the basic awareness of the body nothing is left out. Thoughts arise and pass away, like any other sensation, but they are no longer the point around which our identity is centered. 

In the fullness of awareness the wholeness of our person is embraced. Our true life is resurrected.

It is not about abiding in that space continuously. It is about allowing our thoughts to touch the present moment, which we are anchored to by the breath. It is about grounding our point of view in reality as it is revealed in the naked awareness of the body. Meditation is about sanity. That's what it means to get out of her head.

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