EGO-the black sheep of human existence; we burden it with so many sins. But I need my Ego. It gives me a distinct sense of myself. It helps me to decide what to buy for dinner and what hairstyle to wear. My ego puts a structure into my life, helps to choose from that infinite offer that surrounds us. It is a programme of behaviors-compromise between rules of society and my own preferences. Even if I sometimes hesitate I know what clothes I like, what food I want to eat, what books to read and films to watch, my ego/identity helps me to verify it.

Trouble begins when this identity turns stiff and rigid, fortified with conviction of absolute truth. And it talks; it is actually a great talker, creating rivers and avalanches of words, stories and arguments, explaining and judging all the time. Ego can get so attached to its own form and story that it wants to dominate and overpower everyone and everything. When I want it to shut up and be quiet, it will not listen because I
am no longer an authority to it. So I have to regain my authority, I have to trick it to silence and wisely let it work for me and not the other way around. The question is how? The answer is: meditation.

When I meditate I don’t go anywhere; I don’t “leave” my body and move to some fancy world of blissful happiness following a fairy-tale stories of my mind. Contrary I stay here, as close as possible to the “banal” physical world of my body. I stay with my subjective reality that I experience through my very own senses which are actually situated in the body

Habitually I am constantly with my thoughts-the thinking mind. That’s why I need a change, a shift, a holiday. I don’t want to dwell on my thinking all the time. I want sometimes to stop thinking and rest. And the best and simplest way of doing it is by placing my attention on my body. I witness its presence, what it experiences just here, just now. I scan my body moving my attention from one part to another, feeling and listening to what is going on, simply being a witness of my own existence.

And when I do it, busying myself with the present, my mind switches off, disappears and suddenly I am in some wonderful
place of safety, peace and acceptance. This place is simply here with me and in me, and I know that I can always get there. I can meditate.

Mindfulness has taught me a game called “I don’t know”. The point of it is to see objects without engaging thinking. It goes like that: I can see a common sparrow on my balcony. My mind is immediately producing an assessment like: “It is an unimportant bird and it leaves droppings on the balcony-no good”. But when I play that game I just look at the sparrow as if I have never seen it before. I sense the colors and form it has, I observe the way it turns its head and its constant moving; I share with it the same air and the same place. I experience its presence in my life.

I can play that game with anything. Take a cup of coffee for example. I engage all my senses to receive this ordinary drink into my life. I see the shape, texture and tones of the cup, the color and density of the liquid, I feel the temperature it has and the taste of it. I sense how my body reacts to it-kinesthetic response to the sensation of coffee. I allow myself to be in the presence of that cup. And I remove my attention from any commenting thoughts.

This game is about feelings and sensations and disengaging from assessments and judgements of the intelligent mind.

The skill learned there can be very useful in situations when my mind is locked, running around on a trade-mill or can’t find any explanation or solution to a certain situation. When the mind in spite of its repetitive efforts doesn’t know, truly hasn’t got a faintest I redirect my attention to my body, because it can always tell me something through feelings and sensations. So I stay with it, I concentrate on the kinesthetic feeling I have about the situation or a problem and I allow the energy in my body to move. It is really worth trying. It is also called meditation.

I paint pictures. Does it make me an artist? I don’t know. I would like to be one, because I am in awe for art. Art stops me; makes me turn my head and be curious. To be an artist one needs creativity, talents, skill and imagination. Every child owns it, but it is harder for adults.

In front of every piece of work I make stands a big, skeptical Critic. This guy is magnificent in finding faults, mistakes and errors in my work; his main occupation is simply to criticize me, to make me feel doubts, insecurity and limitations. He can speak through other people but his favorite location is actually in my own head, on my mind. In order to negotiate my right to be an artist I am in constant dialog with this guy justifying and explaining almost every stroke of brush, every stain of paint and asking for approval.But the Critic is never satisfied and is just growing bigger, stronger and more vindictive.

I started my training in meditation and mindfulness because I wanted to learn how to switch off this nagging voice, how to disconnect from the constant intellectual judgment and criticism that was suffocating me and how to stay with the experience, playfulness and joy of painting. It is getting better every day. The critic is growing obedient and keeps quiet oftener. He doesn’t like meditation, but I DO.

Mindfulness gets me closer to reality, while thinking pulls me away from it all the time. Mindfulness is about getting my mind where my body is, while my thoughts are trying to get my body where they are: into some imaginary world; it can be scary or a fantastic one, but it seems always to be more important and more interesting than the real one.

Reality is vast and unpredictable and it is always changing. And I am scared of change. Maybe this constant monolog of the talking mind is a way of protecting me from change and with that from the complete lack of control.

The stories (good or bad, funny or scary) give me illusion of control and stability. (Yes, I know what is going to happen, why it has happened and who is responsible.)

A story is an interpretation of what I have experienced, what my senses deduce from the environment. I spend most of my time listening to these stories. They are so important that they obscure the impulse that started them: sensing the environment.

In meditation I skip all the interpretation and get directly to the sensing, being and experiencing. It allows me to be present with what actually is here and it has a very calming effect on me, it makes me feel safe, brave and belonging. I love meditation.

Meditation moves away from words, language and
thinking mind. And here in this blog I use words appealing to your thinking mind trying to convince you about qualities of meditation. How weird is this?

It is like telling a VIP that he is no longer so Very Important. No VIP likes to be in such an awkward situation, so he will do anything, any trick and maneuver to keep his position. It is not surprising that it takes some effort and struggle to take this dominating position from our thinking VIP.

But human being is much more than only thinking; it is vast and complex.

Meditation helps to regain the proper dynamic of that complexity allowing to choose between thinking and non- thinking adequately.

Meditation is experiential; it means you need to do it to understand what it is. One can’t learn it by only reading about it. I often compare meditation to activities like swimming, biking or even walking. You will never learn swimming or biking by only reading about it. It won’t do. Neither will it in the case of meditation.

So instead of thinking experience the presence: feel gravity of your body, your feet on the floor, weight of your hands, and a sensation of the breeze on your cheeks, the scent of air, a breath. Be aware of what is in the here and now; meditate and it will open a door to vastness of your being.

Number of thoughts passing through the mind is counted in thousands. We have tendency to choose from that heap of
thoughts a particular set and our favorite are so called negative thoughts.

There is also an ongoing well-meant advice on thinking positively. It can be a good advice under a condition that we do it wisely.

Elisabeth Gilbert in her famous book compares thoughts to clothes. I like this metaphor.

Thoughts like clothes are at our disposal, not the other way around. Nevertheless we can get very attached to either part. We have a habit of sticking to the same gear and sometimes we simply don’t notice what we have in the wardrobe, we just like to fill it up with a new stuff, but use the same over and over again.

Choosing and selecting clothes can be difficult, but choosing and selecting thoughts may seem impossible. Sometimes they seem to be glued to the mind. So how can we dissolve this glue?

I find it helpful to create a distance to thoughts; to look at them from a different angle, different perspective. To move to a space where the thoughts can be witnessed like objects appearing on a distance screen.

I find such a space in meditation. It is a room where I can observe thoughts, feel safe and regain some control over them. And if I want I can close doors to that wardrobe of thoughts and pay no attention to it at all. That’s meditation.

Life is changing. My lovely summer is ripening into colorful autumn. It will be gone too. The change is unavoidable and problematic, because it is constant and feels so volatile, fragile and insecure. I can freeze the past in a snap-shot and look at it it feeling safe there. But life is pushing and pouring new events and new vistas on me all the time. And I have to respond in some way to this unlimited abundance of life, this overpowering richness of information.

Intellect is of a great help in sorting all this information. It can organize chaotic events and experiences into some kind of tidy, logical and even beautiful stories. It can explain happenings and justify behaviors. It can suggest what actions to take to be safe and pacify fear of unknown for a while at least. So thinking has obviously an important role in a human life and development of civilizations. But the fact remains that life is unpredictable and controlling it is an illusion.

The constant labor of thinking needs a partner, a complementary helper in responding to life fully. I have found it in mindfulness meditation. Meditation allows me to go beyond the mind and its stories, to connect to life as it is happening in the here and now, to be present and to be aware of this presence. It allows me to feel safe. I meditate.

Reading books about mindfulness is fine. It can be helpful, instructive and explanatory. But it is only an intellectual entertainment and will stay purely that if you don’t put away that book and finally do this simple exercise that is described in it. There is nothing wrong with entertainment, just call it what it is and don’t confuse it with practice.

Reading cookbooks will not put a sophisticated meal on your table, you have to get up and DO the cooking. Neither reading books about playing guitar will make you a guitar player, you have to get up, find a guitar and start exercising it.

To learn an activity takes more than reading
about it; it takes practice. You simply can’t do it without a bit of bodily effort.

Mindfulness meditation is an activity that needs to be learned and exercised. It is experiential not theoretical practice. It needs to be done not read about. So stop reading, sit down, close your eyes and feel your body. MEDITATE.

I spend most of my time in an ordinary every day. Thera are chores, errands and jobs to be done. There are things to be organized and fixed. This every day is normal and average. My intelligent mind can call it: boring, unpleasant or stressful. The great critic in me constantly explains, judges, entertains and distracts me from being present in it. It is a master in taking me away from that every day as if there was something wrong
about it. As if it was not worthy any attention, any praise. Instead of being in my life I am with my thoughts. But the truth is that my life is happening here in the present and not in the story told by my inner talker. I want to experience my life as it is unfolding to me now, in its banalities and splendidness.

I got interested in mindfulness because mindfulness is about the reality, it is about being in the here and now; it is about being alive and being aware of it. I want to participate in events of my own life when they are average, joyful and painful. I want to feel and sense the tastes of the very ordinary and extraordinary things when they are happening to me. I want to live through them, not to think and deliberate them constantly.

I meditate daily and my meditation practice is not about enlightenment, bliss or nirvana. It may happen or not, I don’t care. Practice of meditation helps me to participate in the present and enjoy it. It helps me to quiet down, to see clearly and to breathe deeply. I find an enormous value in it. My life is important, it is precious and mediation allows me to notice it.

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