During the month of February, challenge yourself to participate in MMC’s 28-day meditation program. It’s simple: Commit to meditating each day and connect online to share experiences – pleasant, difficult or otherwise. We will follow the meditation program outlined in Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Real Happiness.” This blog will be your guide, including links to helpful Web sites and guided meditations. Meditation can help with overall wellness, pain, stress, anxiety, sleep and concentration. This is your opportunity to start a new practice to enhance your wellbeing or to continue your practice in the company of your fellow Griffins.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wait ... what's the point of all this?

You might be starting to wonder that very thing about now. What follows is a long passage from Sharon Salzberg's book, "Real Happiness" about why we work at cultivating the ability to pay attention in the here and now. I'd love to hear your reflections on this in relation to your meditation practice.

She writes,
Not paying attention keeps us in an endless cycle of wanting. We move on to the next thing because we aren't really taking in what we already have; inattention creates an escalating need for stimulation. When we're keenly aware of what's happening, we don't need to grasp for the next great moment of sensation or taste or sound (all the while missing what's actually here, right in front of us). Nor do we need to postpone our feeling of happiness until a more exciting or more pleasant object comes along, thinking, 'This is OK, but it would be better if ...' Only when we are attentive in each moment do we find satisfaction in our lives. The point of our practice is to point us to our direct experience.

She gives an example. If you eat an apple but you're not really fully paying attention, you won't notice its taste and smell and texture. You might not even notice you're eating it, if your doing something else at the same time. That experience is likely to leave you unsatisfied and wanting something else. Once you become aware of this mild sense of discontent, you might be inclined to blame the apple - it's uninteresting. You might not realize that the quality of your attention played a role in your experience of the apple. So, you may move on to a banana. If you're not paying attention to the full experience of eating it, you might experience the same thing and yearn for a mango, thinking, "when I get that, then I'll be happy." Salzberg calls this an "interminable chain of longing" and says concentration - what you have been practicing for the past few days -- is what breaks this chain.

What are some of your reflections?

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