A MINDFULNESS MEDITATION FOR THOSE WHO LIKE GOALS
My husband recently declared, “We’re going to get some chickens,” and just like that, within weeks, he’d built a chicken run and a barn, and set off with our girls to a nearby farm to pick up the five new additions to our family.
And all of a sudden, we have newborns again! Shadow, Chestnut, Chip, Sunny and Fluffy.
I’ve been reminded how mesmerising infants are. Just sitting and watching their every move – so ordinary, but utterly extraordinary. Sitting and smiling at their funny little idiosyncrasies. Wondering what they’re thinking about. Watching them interact.
And soon enough 10 minutes have gone by and I realise; 10 minutes full of wonder.
And so inspired this new mindfulness practice. xx
We often (let’s say always) come to meditation with a goal – and that goal is usually to solve a problem. Whether that’s a specific one brought about by an acute situation – I have cancer. Or a more general one that’s been brewing for decades – I’m not happy.
And then once we start learning all about this curious tradition, we’re quickly told, there is no goal, or that the goal of meditation, simply, is to practice.
Which can be very hard to get our minds around when our entire lives have been spent in the pursuit of “something”.
But if we attach to a goal that all this meditating is supposed to achieve then we’ll likely (let’s say always) find its rewards are just out reach. Frustration sets in, doubt tramples over noisily and we soon hear ourselves thinking: What’s the point?
What if we could approach meditation with a “goal” that was a little less bemusing than simply “to practice”, but not so ambitious as trying to achieve some kind of “enlightenment”?
What if that “goal” was instead – to wonder?
Wondering what the mind will do, wondering where it will go.
Sounds inside. Sounds outside. Negative self-talk. Our hands. The future.
Wondering where our attention will rest. In the body or on the breath?
Waiting with interest to see what the mind will do. Wondering which direction it will turn.
Not concerned with whether there are any rewards to this wondering.
That our goal is to access the wonder that’s within.
Like being mesmerised by a newborn; transfixed with a smile as time seems to stand still. Watching every little movement, every little nuance. Not trying to control or direct our experience. But to merely be curious about what will happen next.
Then taking this skill out into our everyday life.
To be in awe of the ordinary. Like how we have traffic lights and stop signs. That our garbage bins get collected at the same time every week.
And trying to approach potential threats – the dentist, a redundancy, our ex’s new partner – with all the wonder of beginner’s mind – not fearful anticipation.
For this meditation let’s come to the practice with this straightforward aim.
Sitting up straight with a relaxed face and shoulders.
Closing our eyes or lowering our gaze.
Using the intention to help see the moments unfolding in front of us.
To wonder how short or long each breath will be.
To wonder how our body will feel now that its had time to stop.
To wonder how many times we’ll get distracted in this meditation.
To wonder how brief or involved our trains of thought will be.
To wonder moment-by-moment what the mind will do next.
To wonder moment-by-moment what we’ll notice and what we won’t.
Keeping this practice light and open and relaxed. Knowing that this approach is what will serve us best.
Trusting that the benefit of this wondering will be felt at some point.
Either as an immediate calmness in the body, or waking up one day realising our outlook has changed and marvelling at just how far we’ve come.