4 Aspects of Meditation

Yesterday’s 6:15pm class at MNDFL saw a surprisingly authentic (and apparently very funny) display of emotion from me. Sorry the 5:30 class missed the show!

4 Aspects Of Meditation - 5:30 class

Focus
Awareness
Tender Hearted Attitude
Techniques for Developing Compassion / Skills for Softening Difficult Emotions

Contemplation: Consider which of these above 4 areas you’d like to improve in your meditation practice, and make that aspect the focal point of your meditation.

• To develop focus, practice to increase your level of concentration without distraction on the breath.

• To develop awareness, practice being present to your constantly shifting external environment and inner landscape.

• A tender hearted attitude is the foundation with which we approach it all: sweet, generous, warm, and soft. Practice observing your breath and thoughts through this lens.

• As for compassion/skills, there are so many practices, many of which build on each other. If developing compassion / skills for softening difficult emotions speaks to you, begin with the phrase: “May I learn the compassionate skills I need.” Say this phrase as a mantra in your meditation, letting your desire to pursue these techniques deepen and inspire you.

Get engaged in the comments: Which one of these 4 aspects speaks loudest to you, and why? (This helps me customize my classes to your interests)

Balancing the Body, Not the Mind - 6:15 class

If you meditate with crossed-legs, it’s good to switch which leg you cross first. This helps keep the body balanced, which is a healthy thing to strive for physically. Mentally, however, we’re not trying to create balance: 50% suffering and 50% peace isn’t the goal. BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: suffering is avoidable. Pain is not. Pain — both physical and emotional, is part of life. It's not a sign something has gone wrong. How we relate and respond to pain, say with suffering, compassion or resilience, is dependent on our skill set. We can actually train our selves to suffer less. And one way to do that is to use meditation to increase positive qualities in our mind and heart.

Compassion, flexibility, softness, patience and appreciation were qualities the class was drawn to. Gratitude is a quality that is said to easily increase happiness. And having a happy mind makes the cultivation of all the other qualities much easier. In the past two hours, what are some of things that you have experienced that you are grateful for? As you make the list, pause and let yourself truly appreciate and savor the memories.

Get engaged in the comments: What positive quality are you most drawn to cultivating? I can offer meditation tips and techniques, but what can you do off the cushion to cultivate that quality?

Disclaimer: Although I teach meditation, I don’t consider myself a meditation teacher (more on that in a future post).

Megan Mook's MNDFL class note. Sept 26, 2016.