A few mornings ago I didn’t feel like meditating. So I went to Youtube, where I get some of my favorite meditation videos, and typed in ‘Meditation when you don’t feel like meditating.’
What came back were a series of videos about what meditation is. A few of them were created by monks, and were quite interesting. I always love when people talk about what meditation is and is not, because I sometimes get asked this question and I can’t think of the answer exactly- not off the top of my head .
Anyway, this Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche, had a 5 minute video that really clarified a lot of things for me about meditation. I’ll summarize his video here.
First, the problem most of us have with meditation is that there are a ton of thoughts racing through our heads as we’re meditating, and we feel like we’ve ‘failed’ if we can’t quiet them.
But, as Mingyur Rinpoche says, and as many of the best meditation teachers say, meditation isn’t about forcing your ‘monkey mind’ to stop.
We are trying to block all thoughts and emotions and to think of absolutely nothing.
But meditation actually isn’t about blocking thoughts and thinking of nothing.
Or can meditation just about blissing out and being peaceful and open? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I bliss out and be peaceful and open, dammit? What is wrong with me?!
But meditation actually isn’t about doing that anyway, so relax.
Another problem many of us have with meditating is that our minds will start telling us stuff to do during a meditation, such as “I have to call Zach, I have to buy detergent, I can’t be wasting this time- I have to put my expense report together” etc.
But meditation isn’t about following each and every demand of your monkey mind.
So what the heck IS meditation all about then? If meditation isn’t about saying ‘hey GET OUT!’ to your mind and your thoughts… And it’s not about saying ‘okay, yes sir!’ to your mind.. then..?
Meditation is about making friends with your monkey mind.
So what does your mind like and want? AND what do YOU want? These questions need to have the same answer…Because you don’t want to just give your mind what it wants while you miserably follow (i.e I have to miserably think the same depressing thoughts over and over beccause I have NO CHOICE BECAUSE THAT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENS UGHHHHHHH WHYYYYYYYY.)
But screaming at your mind to STOP THINKING STUPID THOUGHTS GODDAMMIT JUST STOP IT STOP IT RIGHT NOW doesn’t work either. Your mind doesn’t like being yelled at or told to go away or to stop thinking- and it will sometimes royally disobey and do the exact opposite of what you’re screaming at it about.
So what does your mind like? It likes to have a job. “Without a job your monkey mind thinks it’s jobless and will soon become homeless” -Mingyur Rinpoche
Your mind is always active and wants a job. So when you give a job to your monkey mind, it’s a win-win situation. Your monkey mind is happy because it has a job, and you’re happy because you’re the boss. Your mind is your employee and you are the employer-not the other way around. And in this way, you’re free. You liberate yourself from the monkey mind.
So what does this mean????!!!
Meditation is giving your monkey mind a part- time job.
Just tell your monkey mind, “okay mind, we’re going to meditate, let’s do a job right now, let’s watch our breath.” or “let’s repeat these mantra words.” Don’t give your mind a full-time job…a few minutes a day of meditation is enough.
Also, don’t “punish” your mind if it doesn’t follow the ‘job’ all the time…just simply bring it back to it’s job. Your brain isn’t going to stop thinking just because you’re meditating, but when you give your mind a job and step back, you’ll be able to see those thoughts clearly and let them pass by. Mingyur Rinpoche says it best: In muddy water you can’t see anything, but in still water you can see all the fish swimming around.
So get still. And slowly, slowly, your mind WILL become more peaceful and pliable. And meditation really will bring you to a place where YOU are in charge and are friends with your mind…plus you may start to see some added benefits of newfound love, compassion, and clarity.