Much of what can be read about meditation has nothing to do with insight meditation. Some of it is even simply nonsense; who can lead astray and hinder the development of meditation. The following explanations will help you to understand mindfulness meditation properly and to avoid mistakes in meditation .
1. Mindfulness meditation is a relaxation method
Mindfulness meditation requires a balance between exertion and relaxation . As in other forms of meditation, relaxation is an important aspect of mindfulness meditation – but not its goal! The goal is insight . It is about becoming aware of one’s automatic reactivities , unconscious patterns of thought and evaluation and ways of acting , in order to live with more prudence and wisdom as a result of these findings. Living wisely means understanding the causes of happiness and unhappiness in your own life. This is the only way we can see where we stand in the way of our own happiness. Relaxation is sort of a side effect of this process. It occurs – but not by striving for it, but as a result of not doing and a deep inner letting go . In meditation we have great power to accept things as they are.
2. Mindfulness meditation is a pleasant state
There are forms of meditation, for example fantasy journeys, the aim of which is to regenerate and relax by experiencing beautiful inner images. Everything that is otherwise exhausting and uncomfortable in life is hidden for the time of meditation. In mindfulness meditation we practice something different: awake, open and present we perceive everything that appears in our mind from moment to moment: body sensations , sounds, thoughts, feelings, moods, impulses. The appearances are not always pleasant. Sometimes even very difficult thoughts and emotions can arise – or unpleasant body sensations when we register that our legs are falling asleep and our buttocks are hurting . Counter fears and depressive moods with mindfulness As we explore our consciousness in meditation, we encounter all “objects of the mind” with the same kind attention. We do not suppress anything, but consciously face the reality of our experiences in the present moment. We can find out a lot about ourselves through this investigation. In meditation we have great power to approach unpleasant things. Examining it and learning to deal with it in a wholesome way promotes skills and serenity in dealing with difficult situations – not only in meditation itself, but also in everyday life. “No Struggle, no Strength”… they say in English: No argument – no strength . If you encounter unpleasant body sensations, thoughts or feelings in the next meditation, then greet them with a smile as fertilizer for your mindfulness practice. In meditation we have great power to accept things as they are.
3. Mindfulness meditation means sinking into a trance
Not everyone who has closed their eyes meditates. Some people doze off in a dull state of consciousness. The difference can hardly be seen from the outside. If, on the other hand, you measure the brain waves of meditators , you get a clear picture. Here states of consciousness of dull unconsciousness can be distinguished from those of the highest wakefulness. The highest frequencies ever measured are so-called gamma waves . They are over 30 Hertz and were first detected in Tibetan monks whose brains researchers watched meditating as part of scientific research. Gamma waves are called the cognitive peak of extreme concentration . This means that during the meditative immersion, the brain is in the highest attention. It is far from sinking into the low-frequency areas of a trance. Monks in the magnetic tube (contribution by the South Germans)
4. Mindfulness meditation is a mysterious, complicated practice
We perceive what we do not know as mysterious – and in order to get to know and understand meditation one has to practice it. Since the processes of meditation take place in deep levels of consciousness, one does not become familiar with how they work through reflection. Meditation is not a lifeless formula that produces the same results over and over again. Those who try to acquire their understanding of meditation from books will see it as a book with seven seals. However, this is not due to the meditation as such, but to a lack of self-awareness. If you embark on the adventure of self-discovery, you will find that mindfulness meditation is an effective awareness training that is suitable for everyday use and that in its sobriety does not cling to anything mysterious. A good guide to mindfulness meditation is targeted awareness training that leads to insight and inner peace. 5. Mindfulness meditation is difficult and dangerous Mindfulness meditation is not therapy, but it is highly therapeutic. Doris Kirch Life is potentially dangerous. Everything we do involves some kind of risk. Again, there is a clear parallel between mindfulness meditation and our ordinary life. Because just as we encounter difficulties in everyday life, we can also be confronted with difficulties in meditation . Sometimes in meditation, previously suppressed psychic material is pushed to light. This can be a critical situation for severely traumatized people or people with mental illness. A person affected should therefore first clarify whether the mindfulness meditation is suitable for him. For a “healthy” stable mind, on the other hand, the rising of repressed contents of consciousness is usually not a problem. On the contrary. It is precisely the unconscious parts of ourselves that prevent us from being the person we want to be. We just have to be afraid of the unknown, which lets us lead a puppet-like life in autopilot mode. Experience shows that meditation is a protected space to look at difficult things, to process and to integrate. When properly practiced, mindfulness meditation is a gentle and gradual process of awareness and inner liberation.
6. Mindfulness meditation is an escape from reality
One motivation to start meditating is often a deep longing for silence and inner peace . There is a widespread belief that the best way to do this is to ignore everything difficult and unpleasant in one’s existence and escape reality. As a short-term measure, displacement can actually be a helpful solution in individual cases. As a long-term strategy, it is not. In order to live more self-determined, meaningful and happier , it is important to deal with yourself. Only when we know ourselves, without make-up, with all our weaknesses, is it possible to change and to shed outdated self-images and inhibiting conditioning . Then we are like a lotus, which gradually unfolds its petals to finally release its heart. A confrontation that brings healing In mindfulness practice and mindfulness meditation, we do not flee from reality. On the contrary: we go exactly where it hurts. We don’t turn away (anymore), but confront ourselves and get to the bottom of the problems. We examine it and feel it until it hurts. In this way we penetrate them with deep understanding and free ourselves from the grip of pain, stagnation and tightness that the repression created. In insight meditation we turn to the painful in order to fathom, understand and overcome it.
7. Mindfulness meditation is a problem solving method
We live in a time in which we are constantly being suggested that we can have everything . Right away. More and more is happening in “real time”. So it is not surprising that quick results are expected in mindfulness meditation. Best of all effortlessly. But that’s not how it works. Most people overestimate what they can achieve in short meditation practice – but they completely underestimate what they can achieve in the long term. The changes in consciousness brought about by meditation do not unfold with spectacular gunfire. They are subtle and they take time. Often times, the urge to pursue breakthrough successes obscures practitioners’ view. They are so on the lookout for sensations that they fail to notice the many small changes that ultimately make up the practice. It takes a special human virtue that is not particularly well respected in our high-speed society: patience. Changing consciousness is an unspectacular way of taking small steps. Often you only become aware of the changes when you stop and look back. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke got it right to the point: You have to give things their own, quiet undisturbed development, which comes from deep within and cannot be pushed or accelerated by anything, everything is carried through – and then give birth … tires like the tree that does not press its sap and confidently in the storms of the Spring stands without fear that no summer could come after it. He’s coming! But he only comes to the patient ones who are there as if eternity lay before them, so carefree, quiet and wide … You have to be patient with the unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions yourself, like locked rooms, and like books that are in a very foreign language are written. It’s about living everything. If you live the questions, you may gradually, without realizing it, live into the answers on a strange day.
8. Mindfulness meditation is only for Buddhists
Two and a half thousand years ago, the Buddha was followed not only by countless monks and nuns, but by just as many lay followers. And the Buddha has always emphasized that spiritual liberation can be attained even if you have a family and earn a living . Buddha taught a pure science of the mind that is more relevant today than ever before. He shared with others what he had found through intensive research into his own mind. But he did not ask that people believe him, but tirelessly urged them to conduct their own investigations on the basis of the path he had indicated: “Come and see for yourself”. Using state-of-the-art methods, scientists today research the effects of Buddha’s traditional approaches and exercises – and find them confirmed. Far from any religious or ideological indoctrination , Buddhist psychology shows us a contemporary way to more serenity , joie de vivre and meaningfulness – a way that is open. For everyone.