The now is original and unique. It has never happened before. I come to the now with a luggage of experiences and behaviours that I acquired in the past. I compare what is in the here and now to what had happened to me earlier, sometimes decades ago. I filter the present moment through my old ideas. Ideas that served me well in the past but may be outdated and not valid any longer. This is happening almost automatically. I perceive something, I experience it and before I know my intelligent, thinking, protecting mind has come up with interpretation, story and explanation of it, telling me within a fraction of second what to do, what kind of position I should take in this circumstances. This mechanism is very helpful quite often, but it can be very disturbing and destructive as well. It can push me to do things, to say things that are no longer serving me, or even can hurt me, because I do them automatically and mindlessly. Why do I eat this chocolate bar when somebody or something has upset me? Was eating chocolate a way of solving problems when I was a little girl? To change this pattern I need to see the bigger picture, the picture of the present moment with me being an adult now. Mindfulness helps to retrain nerves system to see and to be in the present moment. It allows me to be conscious of the real time and real space of now. It allows me to see what is really happening without jumping immediately to a conclusion and judgement. It creates space for a conscious response instead of automatic reaction. And it does it gently. That’s why I like mindfulness and meditation so much.

I enjoy having breakfast at a local café. When I am in the south of Spain I sit outdoor looking at palms absorbing warmth of sunshine. It is so lovely that a feeling of laziness descents on me and fills every cell of my body with a wish to be there as long as I can, just be embraced and soaked in this wonderful state.

And then a long list of tasks for the day and week is miraculously unfolding before my eyes and I am being kicked by some sense of duty, responsibility and obligations to finish the breakfast, to get up and get into action, stop being this lazy person. I can negotiate five minutes longer, but I finally get up torn between duty and pleasure. I suppress the longing for this laziness and follow my dutiful me. It can get really hard.

Anyway this is how I used to approach this challenge. But I have acquired another way now, and I use it sometimes. I allow myself to be in the state of laziness. I allow myself to surrender to that feeling of not wanting to do anything, just to stay where I am and enjoy the present moment. I am mindful of my laziness, I soak in it I become it. And then it naturally moves and says: thank you for a lovely meeting, and it lets me do all the things from the list without this struggle and feeling of pressure. My laziness got the attention and acknowledgment it needed and now it lets me do the other things without any protests. There is a benevolent and gentle power in mindfulness.

I want to have a result. And I want this result to be valued as good and positive, to be a success. When it doesn’t happen, when the outcome of my efforts and work is not what I wanted I get disappointed. I feel disappointed, unhappy and useless. It is not a comfortable and pleasant feeling so I do anything to run away from it. I will go shopping. I will eat a half of a cream cake. I will drink too much wine or train too much. I will blame everybody and everything around me. I can even climb Kilimanjaro to get away from that disturbing feeling of being a failure.

But whatever I do this nagging voice will not disappear. So I have to treat it in a different way. I have to face it. I chose to sit with it in a quiet and safe space of meditation. I allow it to come out. I allow myself to feel it. I concentrate on feeling it not on judging it. And instead of running away from it I allow it to move through me, through my body. In the space of meditation I don’t need to suppress or deny it, I can be honest about what I really feel and accept it unconditionally. I can relax and watch what is happening.

This posture of not taking any action, of having no intention, only witnessing is very relaxing and cleansing. And so refreshed after meditation I can go back to my daily pursuits, tasks and plans. Only that this time I don’t focus so much on the result, but I pay a lot of attention to the process, I experience it. I am in it. The result becomes a natural, organic part of the process and I allow it to be.

I teach meditation and mindfulness. It is a bit like teaching swimming. It is experiential. Practice is very important in acquiring it. It is learned by doing not by reading about it. You only need curiosity and interest in meditation to start. Meditation does not demand any particular posture, or special clothing. You don’t need to grow a beard or dreadlocks. You don’t need to be a religious person or a vegetarian.

Meditation is about non thinking, but it doesn’t mean that you will stop thinking and become a fool. It means that you will learn how to use your intelligent, thinking mind when you need it and let is stop bothering you when you don’t need it. You will get more space to move in. Meditation will expand your life. You will get more aware of signals and messages communicated by your body. These signals are so easily ignored and suppressed.

So how do we do it? The first and simplest exercise in mindfulness meditation is scanning the body. We focus our attention on the kinesthetic sense, feeling and sensing what is happening in the body, and we do it without judgment, without giving any name or adjectives to it. We allow for what is there to be there. It sounds very simple, but in reality it turns to be quite difficult, because habitually we never do it. We engage the thinking process automatically, so we have to learn and train how to keep that switched off. By leaving the thinking process unattended, we stop noticing it, stop feeding it. And it simply quiets down. That’s how and where it starts.

You don’t really need a teacher to do it, but it is helpful to practice it with somebody who will gently remind you to pull your attention away from thoughts towards the present. It may be as enjoyable and useful as learning to swim.

I had a nice and relaxing Christmas holiday. Nevertheless there were moments of confusion and stress and in such a moment I broke some plates. They were old and rare pieces that I kept for special occasions. So I felt particularly strong regret of breaking them.

When I make a mistake, when an accident happens, when I lose something I immediately look for explanation, justification or guilty parts. Or rather my intelligent mind engages, it takes over and creates stories trying to explain and process the situation. It thinks. It also tries to think positively according to the fashionable trends. So I was telling myself that these plates were only material things, probably destined to be destroyed anyway and that I should not attach myself to the material world particularly that I am a mindfulness practitioner.

But this is a misunderstanding of mindfulness and meditation. It is not about thinking, it is about being with what is present. So what is really present in such a moment? The truth is that thoughts come later and what is and stays is a pang of pain, anger, disappointment, sadness and irritation. I use my mind to name these feelings but they appear first not on my mind but in my body; my energy system is reacting with bodily sensations to the “tragedy” of losing something precious. It feels. And to “process” it, to console it I have to turn to my body not to my thoughts.

So I sit with these feelings. I meditate. I allow myself to sense the pain, the anger, the sadness and the grief without judging and explaining it intellectually. And I can also go even further: I can allow for what has happened to happen. I can face, recognize and feel a discomfort of losing something. I am very grateful to my teacher GP Walsh for this training. It is not easy and it takes some practice and preparation to get there. But due to that I can let the energy do its stuff, I can let go of sorrows and sufferings that would keep me in the past for days, months or years. I don’t need to dwell on feelings intellectually because I allow myself to experience them, to acknowledge them and be with them as long as they and not my ego need. And this acknowledgement is a way to approach a situation of losing something. It doesn’t mean that I will forget, it means that my life and body will not be paralyzed by that memory whenever it appears. There is no judgement in meditation, there is only unconditional acceptance.

New Year resolutions are about changing and improving my-self, about creating another, a better version of my-self. But do I really know who I am. How much of this “I” is a posture, a programme that has been created to make me functional in the society and culture I live in. This posture is only a small fragment of me, a useful construction. I admit that I have attached myself to this small fragment because I mistook it for the real stuff. Nevertheless I am not going to work on it and try to improve it. I am going to question the notion of “I”. I am going to look for real me, much bigger and grander than the small ego. And to find the answer I am not going to ask my intelligent, thinking mind either. It hasn’t been able to give me the answer for decades so I will look somewhere else.

I sit down, close my eyes and connect to my energy system – I feel my body, I am present. And now I can heed what is here.
 Thoughts - I observe them, their flow and change. I can detach myself from them, I am not them. And then I have a look at sensations and feelings in my body. I sense them, they are not all me. Neither are my emotions. If I can look at them  "something” bigger is looking. There is this background of awareness there and I observe it too, so I can go even beyond it. Who is there/here? Who AM I?

I know that I don’t need to improve and change this I, it is already perfect, complete and magnificent (using words of my friend Barbara) and changeless. It is everything and nothing. It is not two. “It is not this and not that; it is not both and not either.” And it is I. My teacher GP Walsh calls it “light at the center” and it is with me, always present. I can’t explain it with words. I and you – we can only experience it.

Meditation is about being present. It sounds very simple. But there is a part of me which doesn’t like what is in the present. The critical/thinking mind is never satisfied with what’s here. It wants: more, better, different; it always has a wish of improving, changing and going to what was in the past or reaching for what can be in the future. Luckily the critical mind is not all me. It is only an aspect of me, actually a programme which has to explain in words and language what is happening in my life; it is like a graphomaniac film critique whose task is to rate and review films and most of the time the verdict is: “not good enough”.

If I am able to turn my attention away from that critical mind I can easily get into space of meditation, into the here and now. The thinking mind is spoilt. I was trained to trust it and admire it. I was told that I don’t exist if I don’t think. The truth is that It stops existing when I don’t pay any attention to it. And it got so much used to a role of an authoritarian ruler that it will not surrender easily. It uses any trick to stay in this false position of power.

So I retrain my ability to heed. I start by directing my attention towards sensing impulses and sensations in my body. I detach from thinking. This shift is essential: no verbalizing, no telling stories or judging; only feeling.

My attention is as close to my body as possible, I turn it inside. I am safe in the here and now. I meditate and I find peace in the present.

Word “meditation” is sometimes replaced by “sitting”. A posture one takes to meditate is really not so important, but obviously the easiest and most comfortable one is sitting. So instead of saying I meditate one can say I sit.

When I meet my friends for a chat I usually meet them at a cup of coffee or a lunch and we are sitting having a talk.

Meditation is a meeting with my-self and it can as well be done in a sitting position. So if there is something I want to attend to, pay special attention to, something that bothers me or need special consideration I sit with it, paying attention and listening as if I was listening to an important, close friend.

There is a difference though; I have a conversation with a friend using a verbal language, a language we both understand and my intelligent, thinking mind is in command of it. I cannot do it meditating because in that case the verbal language is an obstacle. I need to use and communicate in non-verbal way being present with what is in the here and now.

When I sit in meditation I am with my being and the being talks in sensations and feelings which appear in the body. I start by scanning the body; witnessing its state and functions
(like breathing for example). I listen to motions and sensations occurring in the body and I discern them. This is non-verbal language used by my nervous system. I have been learning it for some time now and it is fascinating. I can sit with anxiety and listen to it; I can sit with worry, fear, doubt and
irritation and listen to it. Listening in that case is heeding the energy in my body, feeling whatever is being communicated with an attitude of allowing and accepting. I allow it to express itself without judgement, to tell the whole, uncensored truth. And I do absolutely nothing about it. That’s meditation.

I have a dream. But there was a time in my life when I didn’t allow myself to dream; it was too silly, unpractical and above all completely unrealistic. But now I know that a dream has nothing to do with reality. A dream is not about fulfilling it; it is about having it. So I just allow myself to dream.

Everything that is not nature, had been once dreamed, imagined, longed for by somebody. Everything that belongs to civilization and culture and not to nature was once somebodies dream.

We put pressure and expectations on a dream, a judgement of its values. We forget that before any dream is brought up to a physical existence it has to occur first; has to take shape in the imagination of its keeper, has to come and pay a visit to its host. And if the doors are closed and there is no permission for it to be, if it is suppresses and judged and controlled from the very start it turns the life of its keeper into some sad, suppressed and constricted one. It has to be welcomed, held and cherished first even if the thinking, logical mind falls about learning about it, ridicules and dismisses it. Before it is judged and criticized let it show up first.

I vote for allowing dreams to exist even if they will never, ever come to life. I vote for dreams of various sizes and qualities to be noticed, listened to and entertained. I vote for allowing them to come and go, grow or fade, simply exist. I don’t need to attach myself to them, or pursue them like a lunatic. I just want to have some space in my life for dreams, visions and ideas: the ordinary one as well as crazy and impossible one. The possibility of allowing my-self to dream brings feeling of freedom and liberty into my life. And this very act of allowing a dream may simply show me a direction that my logical, thinking mind is not able to see, is too limited to perceive.

So I sit with my dream; I meditate on it. I don’t burden it with any expectations and rules; I enjoy it. I allow it to be.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of night absorbed in thinking. My mind is galloping like a herd of horses and a thunder of their hooves wakes me up. To get back to sleep I have to calm down this gallop, I have to slow down these rushing thoughts. At first they seem to be uncontrollable. They bring the strangest stories and ideas to my mind. These stories does not need to be threatening or dramatic, they are simply very intense. It can be a dream, a scene from a film or a book, a wondering about Christmas gifts or a plan for a travel. Sometimes of course it can be something very difficult and problematic. Usually there is no logic in this stream of thoughts, they come and go pulling me in all directions, repeating themselves, making noise and destroying my night rest. They seem to be miles away from the here and now in some imaginary world of future and past. In order to save my beauty sleep I need to bring myself back to the presence. Sometimes the only thing I can do is to observe this race, just to be aware that my mind is playing some kind of strange film on a screen of my consciousness. But what I really want to do is to sense where I am and how I am. To ignore this rush of thinking I have to make a subtle shift to sensing what is here. I start by scanning my body, feeling its weight and concentrating on breathing. I simply do a basic meditation. It may not put me back to sleep, but it usually slows down the galloping thoughts, it calms me down, it brings my attention back to the quiet of the night and a space of rest.

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