Meditation: Re-training and Freeing Attention
My working definition of meditation is deep relaxation of body and mind, while still being alert, witnessing whatever is present within and without. Just noticing, without making a story about what is noticed. Anyone can learn to meditate with some instruction, support and practice. Whatever your experience in the past, you can improve your ability to go deeper.
Many people stop trying to meditate because they
believe they are doing it wrong. Don't expect right away to reach some idealized state which others may have
spent decades obtaining. Anyway, states are transitory and beside the point. The real point is to change your
experience with your ordinary life. If you don't give up; if you continue your practice with a sincere desire
to free your attention from distracting mental noise, you will succeed.
Using accessories such as candles and sitting in the same location, helps alert the thinking
mind that something different is happening; that you will not be giving it as much attention as usual. As soon
as you realize you are thinking during meditation, just say to yourself,
thinking,and return to your practice. Simple ritual and consistency in ignoring the mind helps it learn to relax more readily.
In the beginning, I find it helpful to re-train attention by focusing on a particular category of phenomenon, to the exclusion of other categories. For instance:
At one sitting you might count your breaths, ignoring everything else. Start over each time distracted.
At another sitting, you might listen for sounds as vibration, noticing a sound while it
lasts and then going back to listening again.
At another sitting, you might notice sensations in the body, staying with each as long as it
lasts, and then going on to another sensation. (If no sensation stands out, pick a body part, stay
with it for a time and just notice what is present, no matter how subtle.)
At another sitting, you might notice the tense of thoughts that appear: Is it past (remembering) or
future (planning) or present (commenting)?
If you find a particular phenomenon challenging to attend to, you might stay with it for weeks or
you might switch to a different one for a while. Follow your own guidance.
After considerable training, the mind relaxes its grip on attention, and attention returns to its
natural, open receptivity of noticing what is. I have found this freeing of attention from the
mind translates well into being conscious during daily life, allowing you to be present with your life whether at the grocery store or in your kitchen.
Please join us in Boca Raton for the following meditations led by Lera:
Basic meditation for all faiths or paths. Mondays, 7 to 8 PM. Be encouraged and inspired by sitting with a group. With practice, learn to calm the mind and experience inner peace which extends into your daily life reshaping your experience. Love offering welcome. See Schedules & Directions.
One Saturday a month. 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The invitation of our gathering is to relax our outward focus on usual life patterns in a sacred space dedicated to the inward turning of attention. The gathering begins with a 15 minute slightly-guided meditation to simply allow us to be present, observe and gently open to what is. Then, Lera speaks briefly and invites dialogue related to experiencing beyond the conceptual mind. We conclude with a 30 minute silent sitting. Love offering welcome. See Schedules & Directions.
Contact: Lera Chacon