Here are two stories from my mindfulness meditation teacher training. One has to do with the mind. The other is all about awareness!
1 – Making the mind do what you want takes a lot of practice
During the teacher training we spent seven days with meditations and intense attention on the mind. It was exhausting. My mind would not do what I wanted and was going all over the place. I got angry with my mind. I wanted it to stay on my breathing but it kept resisting and going to thoughts instead. At the end of day five I just had one wish: To take my mind out of my head and hit it hard with a hammer.
It is not easy to tame the mind. It is good to remember that it is normal for the mind to jump around. That is the reality for most people – so nothing is wrong. Also, with meditation practice, things change as new circuits are being created in the brain. The result is a calmer mind.
2 – Sometimes you don’t see what is right in front of your nose
On the last day our awareness practice was put to the test. We were asked to walk around in the space that had been dedicated to our training. The task was to see if there was anything we hadn’t noticed yet. We could go into the garden with the bushes and trees, into the corridor filled with paintings on the wall. We could also walk around in the main room with the big windows and in the seating area just outside the main room. We were advised to observe everything with presence, curiosity and kindness, in the same way that we had learned to observe our body during body scan meditations. I was not at all enthusiastic about this task (I remember thinking it was a waste of time…). We had been in this space for so many days and I knew I had already registered everything around.
Haha how wrong I was! Something right in front of my nose had completely slipped my attention. Twenty minutes later, coming back to the main room, I saw a big circular sign on the door saying “room 12”. I realised it was the first time I noticed the sign. I couldn’t believe it! With all this awareness going on, how was it possible to walk in and out of that door about ten times a day for a whole week without noticing I was in Room 12? It felt like a mini-shock in my brain. I realised how unaware I can be even when I think I am super-present.
3 – Conclusion
It takes practice to calm ones mind.
It is wise to accept that we don’t always see or know everything.
It is beneficial to avoid judging oneself!