The Satori Centre featured on Authentik You with Susan Cranston

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Airing Sunday, Feb. 16 at 5:00 PM on Rogers TV Cable 20, Susan Cranston interviews the founder and owner of The Satori Centre, Patti Moses.Patti is living proof that it is never too late to make significant changes in one’s life. Patti went to university in her 40s to attain an undergrad degree and then in her 50s went on to complete her Masters. Joking that she’ll be working toward her PhD in her 60s, Patti already has accomplished many goals including fulfilling her personal dream of starting The Satori Centre in 2009. It is one that she’s been focused on by cultivating her medication practice for many years.Here are the Qs & As from Susan’s interview with Patti:S: From your upbringing, what influenced you profoundly along the way?

P: I had a rough childhood, there was lots of conflict in my family. My mother died when I was 13 and my father remarried right away and that was tough. I left home at 17 and married at 20. I had my son when I was 23 and my daughter at 26. My marriage ended after 10 years and I then became a single mother. I bought a house right away so there were lots of expenses and I was solely responsible for maintenance and repairs which wasn’t always easy. I worked long hours and sometimes several jobs to make ends meet. I was not happy at all. I worked in the printing industry, but I needed a paycheque so in some ways I felt trapped. As it turned out in 1999, two weeks before Christmas, my job was cut and I was suddenly unemployed. I had two children and all the gifts were bought and under the tree. I had no idea what I was going to do. That was such a devastating time for me and I really didn’t know what to do. It turned out to be a bit of a paradox though because I’d wanted out of the industry badly, but didn’t know how to get out and suddenly, I found myself at a fork in the road.A  few days later I made a decision to just enjoy the holidays and start exploring my options in the New Year. It turned out to be one of the nicest holidays I’d had in a long time because I let go of all the worries and thoughts of what was going to happen. It was at the beginning of 2000 when through a dear friend, I met Stephanie Mancini of The Working Centre, and she suggested I look at going to university full time and follow my passion.I ended up going to university as a single mom with a mortgage and all that it entails. For two years I fast tracked my education and did five courses a term for two years straight in order to get my undergrad degree. This was a big challenge as I graduated high school in 1974. It had been a LONG time since I’d been in school and never at this level. That period of my life was really hard.Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with heart disease and it stopped me in my track. It really made me re-evaluate my life. After this diagnosis, I went back to university and completed my Masters degree.S: You’ve had a variety of roles. You are a social worker, you’ve worked as a printing press operator, and now as the owner of The Satori Centre, what has that journey been like for you?

P: It was a real challenge being in the printing industry.  During those years it was a very male oriented environment, I was one of very few women who actually did the hands on work, running the presses, and many of the people I worked with had very different values than me. My values were based on egalitarianism and I was a feminist and so sexism went over, with me, like a lead balloon, but I also found that I couldn’t help but to object.This really served to alienate me from my peers, so for many years it was a very lonely work existence. I’d always hear “what’s a matter with you, don’t you have a sense of humour”? My sense of humour didn’t include degrading people based on race, gender or sexual orientation so that wasn’t a pleasant aspect of the work.

In the early mid 90’s I started taking post secondary courses, I started with one college course and then
started taking university courses. During that time I started recognising something in me that was much different than my previous experiences; I enjoyed it. In the mid 90’s I also then started as a volunteer with Anselma House (a residential program for abused women and their children) and I was hooked. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do, support other people who were in crisis or struggling in life

I then got a relief job and was later hired full-time as a residential support worker. I LOVED that work and was excited to get up in the morning to go and I honestly didn’t want to leave at the end of my shifts. When the cuts came in the late 90s, I was again downsized out of that job, but I had the forsight to prepare and I went straight into Child Protection, with Family and Children’s Service, where I’ve now been for over 10 years. Since then there has been no looking back and I’m doing exactly what I love.

S: What fuels and motivates you?

P: What motivates me is working with people who are struggling to find answers to life’s problems and being part of their discovery process. It’s amazing watching individuals grown emotionally and become more their “authentic selves” and also working with couples and families who are experiencing real crisis in their lives. I personally know many of the struggles they are dealing with and I know the freedom that can come from doing the hard work. It fuels me and keeps me doing what I’m doing.

S: What was your biggest challenge in starting the Satori Centre?

P: I think my challenge with the Satori Centre is still being worked out, and that is figuring out what the Satori Centre actually is. Right now I do so many different things under the umbrella of the Centre, I teach meditation classes, we have book clubs and retreats, I provide counselling to individuals and couples and I’m now at the point where I want to focus in on a few less things and ‘specialise’ more.

I see lots of businesses where the owner does 4 or 5 or even 6 different things and it feels like there’s a bit of an identify crisis going on. I don’t want that for the Satori Centre. I don’t want any confusion about what it is. Right now I’m looking at what I’m going to spend my energy on and what I’m going to let go of. My father used to always use the KISS theory. “Keep it simple sweetie” and that’s what I’m working on now.

S: What has been the best thing about owning your own business? 

P: I love that I’ve build something from nothing. In 1995 I bought all the website domains for the Satori Centre without even knowing, what domains were OR what it was going to look like. I just knew that I wanted to do something with meditation and counselling. I didn’t even have the qualifications yet for any of it.

I’m very proud of how it has grown and the recognition it’s received in the community. The Satori Centre was recently voted the Most Inspirational Group in Waterloo Region by the Cord Community Edition. That makes me very proud that people see the Centre, and me, as inspirational. That’s pretty cool.

S: Who have been your greatest supporters?

P: My supporters have been my family and close friends. I’ve also found a lot of support from participants of the centre. They just keep referring people to me after they have come to a class or for therapy. Some community members have been very supportive because they believe in the value of the service that I provide. I’ve been fortunate to have a good support system.

S: What are you most proud of?

P: When you ask me what I’m most proud of I can’t help but mention my two grown children, Tyler and Jessica. They are both very successful in their own rights, and my daughter has given me two amazing grandchildren, Sebastian and Beckett, whom I absolutely adore.

In terms of my work, I  guess I’m really proud of my accomplishments considering where I’ve come from. I’m proud of having the wisdom to follow my passion, to listen to my inner voice and the hard work I’ve done to get where I am today.

S: If you could give someone three tips to start a new venture, what would they be?
P:
#1. Follow your passion. It’s a bit cliche but really this was key for me and I would tell anyone this. Figure out what you love doing and figure out a way to do it.
# 2. Provide professional service. I think listening to your customers is critical and so I always ask for feedback, and for me that’s really important if I’m going to grow my business. So I would say “be professional”.
#3. Set short term and long term goals and review them as you go. My goals change with time, as I mentioned I’m looking at redefining what the Satori Centre is so it’s okay to change your mind,  but I always have some kind of plan in front of me to follow.

S: What advice would you give to someone who is nervous about taking that leap of faith and following their dreams?

P: I guess look at what your options are and know that if you don’t make changes you’ll be stuck in status quo. Decide if that’s what you want and if it’s not then what have you got to lose. There is a saying that “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” so I would say- go for it and then be patient with the process. Dreams, usually, don’t come true over night.

S: Looking back on the last few years of your professional career, and if given the chance, what is one thing you would do differently?

P: What would I do differently? Hmmm…I don’t really think I’d do anything differently. I love what I’m doing both for my full time job as well as running the Centre part time and having my counselling practice. I feel like things are really going very much as I planned. I did have one little hiccup last year when I brought someone else on board, at the Centre,  but despite that not working out it was a great learning opportunity for me and I now know what I won’t do with my business again. I really see every situation, good or bad as a learning experience. Rumi talks about this in his poem “The Guest House” where he alludes to ever experience being a teacher for us. So I don’t live with regrets and I don’t look back except to learn from an experience. I’m a firm believer in “no mistakes” in life. Things unfold exactly how they are supposed to and it’s out of reaction or response to them that decides the next step(s) on the path.

S: What is one thing you would like to do more of?

P: I’d like to do more training. I LOVE to learn. I love going to silent retreats, and I do them every time I get an opportunity and in fact I’m going to a 10 day retreat over Christmas. I’d love to travel to India or the east to learn more about the culture and wisdom. I’d also like to do more schooling. I dream of a PhD, perhaps to become a psychologist,  and I joke because I did my undergrad in my 40’s and my Masters in my 50’s that I’ll do my PhD in my 60″s. I’d love to be Dr. Moses, but I’m not sure about all the statistical stuff, that’s not my strong point.

S: Looking forward a year from now, what do you envision for yourself? 

P: Refining all that I do down to a more focused place. Right now I’ve got way too much on the go and it’s possible I’m spreading my talent too thin. I envision being more focused within my plan.

S: What top goal have you set?

P: One of my top goals, when the time is right, is to transition from full time work at FACS into my private practice and meditation studies.  I’m giving myself to the age of 65 and then I want to do that switch. I don’t really want to stop working. I so enjoy being in a supportive role to others and every time I meet a new client or have a new group or start working with a new family, I get excited about what they are bringing to our time together, I really do, so I don’t see myself going into ‘traditional retirement’ mode at any time.

S: How can we get in touch with you – what is your website and how can we connect with you?

P: www.satoricentre.ca or email info@satoricentre.ca. I also have a Facebook page, just search Satori Centre, on FB. https://www.facebook.com/SatoriCentre

S: Who inspires you most and why?P: I draw inspiration from several places but one of them is my grandson Sebastian. He’s the best teacher I could ever have to remind me to ‘live in the moment’. He’s so present when we’re playing or exploring or just sitting and snuggling. I love that he reminds me all the time to ‘be in the moment’ and to really see life as it is. My clients also inspire me. I work with some amazing people who are up against situations you could never fathom and they are so strong and resourceful. Many times they don’t see the strengths they have, but I remind them of the characters in the Wizard of Oz, who in the end found out they had everything they needed inside them already. We sometimes need some guidance to remember those places and get back to our authentic selves where our courage, our heart and our intelligence are.I feel so lucky to be doing what I’m doing and I”m so honoured that people trust me and have faith in me to walk side by side with them on their journeys.

Making winter bearable (or even enjoyable)

 

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Does weather dictate your mood. Do you decide that because it’s too hot,or too cold, that you’re going to be miserable? Do you use language like “miserable, crappy, depressing weather”?  Then this blog is for you.

So…we’re into the fall season and heading quickly into winter. Leaves are falling and so is the temperature.What I hear all around me is so are peoples moods.

Many of us love the fall and winter seasons for lots of good reasons but more people seem to hate it.

The reality is that in this hemisphere of the world, Ontario Canada, fall and winter come every year right at this time. The days are shorter, the sun shines less and we have to bundle up a whole lot more.

Whether you’re born and raised in South Western Ontario or have made this area your home by choice there is no escaping it.  Well, no escaping unless you travel south like a snowbird.

So…while you’re here why not do your best to enjoy your life through the inevitable snow, freezing rain and sleet?

Here are some suggestions on making winter bearable.

1 You’ll likely be spending a lot more time indoors through the winter so ensure that your home is healthy. If your house is drafty seal up the gaps with caulking or weatherstripping.  If it’s seal too tightly, let some fresh air in. Turn on fans to circulate air (the furnace fan is great because it keeps air moving). Be sure that you are not promoting an unhealthy environment by allowing condensation to build up on windows. Clean bathrooms weekly to prevent mould and bacterial growth. Keep the temperature down a few degrees and put more layers on. Cooler air is better for respiration. Having the window open a crack in the bedroom, at night, will help you sleep better. Buy a duvet and snuggle in where your body heat can create a toasty warm sleeping environment but the air can be crisp and clean.

2 Make your home cozy and welcoming. When your home feels inviting it can serve to cheer you up. Change/or wash your sheets once a week. Fresh sheets can improve your sleep experience and keep your room smelling fresh. Light some scented candles (beeswax are most environmentally friendly but there are lots of great all natural scented candles too). Turn up your lighting. A dark house in the winter can feel depressing and make you feel lethargic and unhappy. (not to waste electricity, make sure lights are on only where you are in the house. Also be sure to use solar and LED’s when possible). Buy some flowers at the market each week. Yellow flowers, specifically, have been shown to increase mood.

3 Fill your house with laughter. Have friends over for dinner parties, movie or game nights or for a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Turn the news channel off and take a break from all the tragedies in life. How many house fires or shootings do you really need to know about? Give your heart and spirit a rest from all the bad news and watch some old fashioned comedy like “I love Lucy”. Use the newspaper to line your Green Bin instead of reading about more terrible things happening in your community or in the world.

4 Food can be a real source of comfort through the dark cold days. Cook some soup or make a crock pot of something yummy. Maybe a stew or some vegetarian chilli. Experiment with baking bread. There’s no better scent than the smell of freshly baked bread and it will taste so yummy with your home made soup or stew. That alone will raise your dopamine levels and cheer you up. Sharing it with a friend or neighbour will increase the pleasure. A cup of tea and a cookie or muffin can be just the right thing to lessen the stress after a hectic shopping trip out in the winter weather. Herbal teas with a bit of honey can fill the senses and your room with delightful aroma.

5 Remember there are no outdoor chores in the winter, other than some shovelling. No lawns to mow, no gardens to attend. No windows to paint or leaves to rake. Winter can be a real time of rejuvenation.  Summer can be so busy and hectic, give yourself permission to kick back, relax and recharge. Take a page from the bears and spends a BIT of time hibernating.

6 There are NO BUGS!. This one is huge. No pesky ants making a congo line to your cupboard. No flies landing in your food. No mosquitos buzzing about or landing and leaving itchy welts. Just the squirrels, birds and bunnies foraging for whatever they can find. Put out a bird feeder (there are so many easy to make sites on the internet- you can use many household items) and enjoy watching them land and take off again.

7 It’s QUIET!! Winter can be such a nice quiet time of year. The windows are shut, the furnace hums you to sleep. There are no fireworks scaring the dog and sending her under the bed for shelter. The neighbour’s noisy night time parties take a break. Constant noise and interruptions are not conducive to healthy living. We all need a break from that sometimes and winter offers the perfect quiet retreat for our souls. Quiet is a wonderful space to be fully present with the moment. Not worrying about the future or dredging up the past, but simply being where you are with a sense of equanimity. A sense of okayness.

8 Winter offers so many wondrous scenes of beauty. Take time to walk in the woods or on a trail near your home. Really ‘see’ the beauty of the snow on the branches. The sparkling diamonds in the trees when droplets of water reflect in the sun. Take a drive into the country.  Allow all your senses to drink it in and truly SEE winter for all it’s glory.

9 Use common sense when it comes to the winter. Dress warm in layers and be sure to keep your feet and hands warm. Wear a hat or ear band to keep tender parts of your body from getting cold. When you’re warm and dressed for the weather it makes the experience so much better.

10 Get snow tires. This could be the best investment you make for yourself, next to a good mattress, and could change the way you feel about winter. When you feel, and are, safe, it can change your perspective completely about driving in the snow and slush. Be sure to clean off lights and turn signals (and use them) so that others can see what your intention is. Even little fender benders can be stressful. Be proactive to avoid them.

11 Get out in it. So many people hibernate the entire season and miss all the fun.  Have a snowball fight (pack them light and be gentle with your toss- safety first), make a snow fort or a snow family. Make some snow angels. Lace up the old skates that are packed away. Rent some snow shoes for the day and head to a local park that grooms their trails. Take up cross country or down hill skiing. SNOWBOARD!!  Simply walk in the woods or find a trail that keeps it’s paths groomed through the winter. When you participate in the season you will appreciate it more and have some FUN!!. The skies are often clearer in the winter and star and moon gazing can be fabulous when you are snuggled up with a loved one on a park bench with a thermos of hot chocolate.

12 Take Vitamin D. We need D so our bodies can absorb Calcium from our foods. This is critical for bone health. In the winter the sun does not offer, and we don’t get the exposure like we do in the summer, the Vitamin D that we need, so a supplement is needed. Vitamin D is referred to as ‘sunshine in a bottle”. Be sure you get yours.

13 This can also be a great time to focus on some ‘inner cleansing’. I don’t just mean your body but also your closets and cupboards. Take this time to pull out all the Tupperware and organise it. Throw out broken or worn out pieces and give the cupboards a good scrub. Same with clothes closets. This is a great time to purge any clothes that no longer fit or you feel are not your style any longer. There are tons of places to donate your castaways and you can lighten the energy in the your space by removing any unused or unwanted items.

 

As you can see there are lots of things to do in the winter that can brighten your mood. What you get out of life really is what you put into it. You can chose to be ‘miserable’ or you can chose to make some changes and see what happens. It’s really up to YOU!!

If you are interested in taking up meditation as a way to manage your stress or lift your mood through the winter contact ‘info@satoricentre.ca for more information.

“FREEZE” by M.N.Lambe

freeze“Those who are sure about the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety.”   – Marianne Williamson


If the options available to me in any threatening situation were fight or flight, it was by method of deduction that I developed a predictable fondness for the latter.  Whether literal or metaphoric, I had grown tired of fighting myself, my thoughts and my reality, and flight seemed a safer fit.

I also became quite skilled at it. At times they were well planned, but mostly these transitions were erratic and haphazard; some even urgent.  In eight years, I would move fourteen times across six cities.   At 27, I would embark on a two month backpacking trip by myself across seven countries.  I thought there was something terribly romantic about flight: desirable, even.  People told me they were “inspired by my courage,” but eventually I would realize it was the opposite: I was attached to a notion that there was something out there that would give me the secret to putting together the pieces of my life: something that would settle the unrest.  I thought that perhaps, against the backdrop of the right apartment, or the right city, I could somehow quiet my mind and find peace, balance and strength.  As long as I was suspended in a state of flux, I could somehow evolve, but avoid the inevitable discomfort of growth.

And yet in Halifax, in Toronto, in Venice and in Prague: everywhere I went, there I was.

I surprised even myself a few years ago when I took a full time job in the non-profit field and set down roots.  Within months, the idea of daily obligations and “routine” started to wear on me.  I moved the furniture from one room to another at least six times. I catastrophized my work priorities, creating unnecessary stress around an already heavy workload.  I actively sought out behaviours and addictions, participating in self harm that was severely detrimental to my physical and mental health. All of this made it quite impossible for me to find peace and, no surprise, conflrmed a world view that this life could never fit for me.  That I was safer on the run.  


I had long believed that a key component in authentic living involved journeying within: and yet, no amount of introspection and writing through this could settle the itch inside.  At times it would contribute to, rather than release me from, the anguish.  So with the help of a counsellor and support group, I developed a strategy for self-care which included a regular yoga and meditation practice.  This led me to consider an alternate response to threatening situations I hadn’t realized was also within my arsenal: freeze.  Freeze and be present, freeze and accept.  


Needless to say, it was a hard sell: it seemed so… passive.  I was a do-er and a problem solver, who was seeking change and a deepening of purpose: wouldn’t standing still send the message to the universe I was content where I was?   The truth I would come to understand is that being present is an engaged process which requires an immense amount of focused energy.  It is an active process to be fully open to each moment, searching the parameters of each one for material to be inspired, displaced and changed by, and most importantly, grateful for.  Gratitude, especially, must be practiced in action. Where it goes, suffering cannot: this is a magical truth.


The idea of “practice” where these methods are concerned are new ideas I can’t seem to master… and that, therein, is the magic of it.  On difficult days I can forget this quite easily, but it helps for me to replace the word “routine” with “ritual,” and treat these practices that bring me peace with not only necessity but reverence.  In this way, I can see my own truth not as a goal to be reached but something to be discovered in layers: and my truth is not binary, but fluid, emotional, and human.  

This continuous discovery, the ability to bear witness to it by unfolding the present moment by moment, has been the most freeing idea I’ve ever encountered. As Carl Rodgers put it, “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then [and not before, and not by any other method] I am free to change.”


I wish you all the presence possible in your practice today, and that you’ll find the healing in freezing.  


Just for a moment: that’s all it takes.

M.N.Lambe

Forgiveness

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A few weeks ago my house, AKA, The Satori Centre, was broken into. In broad daylight. Through a locked window. Now, regardless of the circumstances, the bottom line is that someone, (we’ve deduced it was one person) took a garden tool and pried their way through a locked window into my home.

When I discovered the ‘crime scene’ I was immediately enraged. How dare someone come into my home without an invitation. How dare they ‘violate’ my space. How dare they take ‘MY” valuables, some of them irreplaceable. How dare they. Well…they dare.

After much conversation with police, insurance brokers and adjusters, security appraisers, I-dent staff, Victim Services, other work people and family and friends, I came to a conclusion. It’s a conclusion based on what I’ve known, and been teaching, for years.

That everything is impermanent AND life’s suffering is truly based on 3 simple factors. Attachment, Aversion and Ignorance. I was very much attached to the items the ‘crook’ took. I had a HUGE aversion to the thought of ‘him’ being in my home and I was ignorant to the level of security my home can provide, even with all doors and windows locked. I was also ignorant to the idea that ‘my’ things are mine.

“MY’ belongings are really only ‘mine’ within the thinking process of my brain. In a flash they can be someone else’s. The lesson was crystal clear.

For the first couple of days, I was consistently reminded that the crook took my ‘stuff’. I had to replace some items others I cannot. I think the best thing I did during that time was to call Victim Services. The women on the other end of the line told me that the crooks can take my stuff but they cannot take my sense of compassion, kindness, generosity. My sense of giving to the world, my big heart.

My ‘big heart’ seems to have gotten me into some other trouble over this past year and although I’ve had a lot taken from me, I will not stop giving. I will not let those who have ‘robbed’ me take away my sense of love. Love for the crook, love for others who have walked into my life, gotten what they wanted and walked back out.

A few days before the break in a dear friend gave me a ticket to see Thich Nhat Hanh’s (TNH) public address in Toronto. I’d wanted to go to TNH’s ‘Retreat for Educators’ but chose to invest my resources elsewhere. I promised my friend that I would ‘pay it forward’ and I did. I gave the ticket to another meditator who was very excited about going. He went and let me know a bit about the talk and it all sounded lovely.

A few days after the break in this person not only forwarded me a link to Oprah’s interview with TNH but also to the movie “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana”. (see link below). This is a wonderful, short, documentary, on Vipassana meditation being introduced, for the 1st time, into a prison. An Indian prison. I’d watched this film several times but I chose to watch it again. In the film one of the prisoners, who attends the 10 day Vipassana course, speaks of forgiving the man who killed his daughter.

This was just what I needed to hear. That others could forgive someone who has taken the life of a loved one. He talked of the need for this in order that he stop feeling hatred, stop feeling the level of anger he felt and to start healing himself. What he may not have realised he was also doing was healing the world and this stopped me in my tracks.

I knew what I had to do and that was to forgive the ‘crook’ who broke into my house. The person who came, uninvited, by force, into my ‘sanctuary’. The person who chose to take things that did not belong to him, take things that he had to know would impact the ‘owner’, me. I had to forgive him. I sat a lot of meditation on this. At first my heart was resistant to opening to it. But in short order I could feel my heart open to this person. To their pain. To their sense of desperation.What else could have driven him to this act?

A saying that I think of often is “desperate times call for desperate measures” and I wonder if he was desperate. Desperate for drugs or alcohol, or desperate for control, desperate to fill some void, some ‘hole in his soul’. I suddenly wanted to meet him, to hug him, to tell him it would be okay. I found myself wondering what had happened that would leave him in such pain that he had to hurt others. Like the others who have hurt me. Then I started thinking about those whom I’ve hurt and I suddenly found myself asking them for forgiveness.

This process was transformational. I’d been robbed and yet I needed to make amends. Life never ceases to amaze me in it’s full blown wonderment. It’s crazy assed way of turning things around.

Today I look at my ‘stuff’ differently. I no longer see it as ‘mine’. I see it as stuff that’s sharing space with me in this moment. Stuff that might get lost, stolen, broken, shared, whatever. It’s just stuff.

What I know to be the most valuable of all the stuff in life are the relationships that I have with myself and others. Those that I nurture and those that nurture me. That’s really all that counts here. All that really matters is ‘have I loved well’?

And yes, even the crooks of the world.

 

“Doing Time, Doing Vipassana” the movie – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8tZX3dGSM8

The Myth of Meditation

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Meditation has changed my life and the very sense of who I am.

​I have survived hospital stays, car accidents, difficult situations and insomnia by simply practicing mediation.
We know that meditation has been around ​for thousands of years and practiced by people from all walks of life and on all parts of the globe​, but t​here is one​ common myth about meditation, however, that often leads to a sense of failure and why people give up on the practice.

This is the Myth: That meditation is supposed to work to calm and quiet  the mind.

​I know this to be false.​ Don’t get me wrong, a feeling of calm and a quiet in one’s mind is sometimes a result of meditation, and a lovely one at that,  but the purpose of meditation is not to calm the mind or the self. You have not failed if your mind does not become like a still pool reflecting the moons image, as a result of this practice.

It is the nature of the mind to keep generating thoughts, endlessly, whether meditating or not. Some 70-80 thousand of them a day. Some people who have meditated for decades continue to house a wild animal, (affectionately known as monkey mind) inside them. The purpose of meditation is not to change the nature of the monkey, not to turn it into a docile rabbit. Rather, the purpose is simply to observe the monkey — to SEE what is happening within your own mind and your own self. That’s it! Nothing fancy.

Noticing the mind jumping about — doing its monkey thing — is meditation. If the mind quiets as a result of being observed (which it often does), that’s wonderful, but whether it does or not is of no consequence.

What changes as a result of meditation is not necessarily the speed and frequency of the thoughts that appear, but rather our relationship with those thoughts. Through the practice of meditation, we become less identified with the story lines that runs through our head, less convinced that our thoughts hold some inherent truth or importance, and less committed to solving each problem/emergency about which our thoughts remind us.

You could say that we lose a degree of interest in the monkey mind’s song (or screech). Sometimes the mind quiets as a result of our lack of interest — of our paying it less mind — and sometimes it just screeches louder. Again, neither outcome is a testament to the success or failure of meditation, just something else to notice.

So what is the big deal, then? Why all this talk about meditation when (possibly) nothing about the mind changes as a result of it. What is startling is that everything can change as a result of not trying to change anything. It is counter-intuitive, really — we do not set out with the purpose of changing who we are (or if we do, we simply notice that too), and yet who we are changes once it is simply allowed to be. It’s more like the unpeeling of the proverbial onion layer. One layer at a time we get closer to that whom we truly are.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers.

What happens as a result of witnessing our own mind (without judgment or commentary) is that, over time, we realize that we are actually not that mind, nor the thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and all else that it spews out. We realize that the mind will happen on its own, generating content, with or without our participation. We realize that who we are, our very identity, is the one who is witnessing all that goes on, that monkeying about. In meditation, the silent witness.

The purpose of meditation is not to change our mind, but to awaken the self that is aware of it!

You are successfully meditating IF you meditate.

If you take one moment to see what is occurring inside your own mind — without getting involved in its contents, without engaging in the dialogue, the story line, just looking — you are doing it right.

 

“It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time by yourself.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

man meditating