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Day five – attitude

Imagine you have a child who walks into your home-office to show you a picture they’ve just completed.

You’re busy completing something due for work tomorrow. You acknowledge your child and the hard work they’ve put into their drawing. Once you’ve acknowledged them, consider how you would speak to let them know you wish to continue with your work?

Would you speak harshly and go straight back to your work?

Or would you firstly listen to what they have to say and acknowledge them, before gently steering the conversation to the task at hand.

In the above interaction, the respect and kindness you would show your own child as you explain how you’re going to continue with your work is the kind of energy that can have a positive influence over your meditation.

For another example, imagine you’re working in a restaurant and your job is to greet customers when they arrive and direct them to their seat. You stand a few metres from the front door holding a diary in your hand which has the details of those people who have already reserved a seat. Let’s also say you have a five-page article you want to read for university and it’s also in your booking diary.

Each time someone walks into your restaurant you need to greet them and have a short conversation to find out how many people will be with them, and then you direct them to the appropriate table. When everyone is seated, you can then stand near the front door and read the article you brought with you. Ten seconds later someone walks into the restaurant, you stop reading your article and interact with the person until they are seated. If you speak harshly or are rude or dismissive to even one person entering your restaurant, will that make it easier or harder for you to return to reading your article?

It’s the same with meditation. No matter what your object of meditation is, you are going to be continuously distracted by all different types of thoughts and feelings. But just like in the restaurant example above, it’s important how you interact with every single thought or emotion that presents itself.

The quickest way to return to standing next to the front door and reading your article is to interact with each customer respectfully. If you are rude or disrespectful, there is a good chance they are either going to confront you directly or complain to your manager. Either of those two outcomes will reduce the amount of time you have to read your article.

It’s easy to say “accept whatever is arising in your mind”, yet if some of your thoughts are to do with something from the past which is painful, you may find it isn’t easy to sit with and accept those thoughts. Whatever the memory is, the thoughts and feelings associated with it have a right to be heard and felt by you.

Some days when you sit maybe there’ll be something that won’t go away or is even there for a few days. No matter, just let it be.

Daily exercise:

When you’re sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, observe what your mind is doing.

Is your mind busy and talkative today, or quieter?

Your task for today is to observe the tone you use when you talk to yourself internally. Do you put yourself down?

Do you encourage yourself?

Once you have a sense of how you usually talk to yourself internally, imagine you started speaking the same way out loud to someone you care about, for example, your parents, partner or children. Would you be comfortable speaking to someone you care about in the same way you speak to yourself internally?

While the meditation timer is running, if you notice your mind is occupied with memories from the past or thoughts about the future, firstly acknowledge them and gently bring your attention back to the present moment, with the same tone and attitude you would use if speaking to someone you care about.