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Quieting the Mind with Kindness

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How do you meditate, I asked a friend.

“At first it was difficult because somewhere along the way I had picked up the idea that I was supposed to clear my mind of all thought and have this emptiness inside my head.  This became more and more difficult and I started to become anxious at the thought of meditation.  At some point I decided not to try to do anything and instead of banishing thoughts that appeared in my mind, I would follow them.

"I was worried that some of the thoughts were negative and obsessive and that they would take me down a path I didn’t want to go.  But over time, I learned to just look at the thoughts.  I also tried the technique of talking to the thoughts in my mind.  I would pretend that each thought was a person and ask it ‘what do you want me to know?’  The important thing about all of this is that eventually when I sat down to meditate the anxiety was gone and quiet mind was available in a way that it hadn’t been at the beginning.  Maybe it is because I stopped resisting what was in there.

"A teacher once said to me that thoughts are like independent beings and when their existence is threatened, they fight back for survival.  I’ve never forgotten that image and use it now.  I treat my mind with more understanding and if it is troubled and busy and scary in there, I don’t run away, I sit and take a deep breath and look in at everything that is inside.  I call that meditation because when I get up from my exercise I have something akin to more  understanding, or a big picture view, or peace of mind."

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