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Why do monks meditate so much?- Nov. 29, 2019

Updated: Nov 25

This question was asked by a curious student at the weekly meditation group that I attend in Chiang Mai. Phra Le, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who leads these sessions with lightness and humor, replied, "Because we have nothing to do." After a rupture of laughter from our group, Phra Le added, "It's true." He then went on to explain that in society, people have quite busy lives, busy minds, and are conditioned to doing, achieving, and constantly be in action. On the other hand, meditation is the practice of not doing. When I first started meditating many years ago, I did not understand how to 'not do'. I remember trying to "do" not-doing! With the mind so used to thinking-- whether it's about the past, planning into the future, creating ideas, seeking stimulation or numbing out on our devices, it makes us move further away from what's happening in the present moment. We become disconnected and disembodied to our own felt sensations that yearn to be seen and heard. After all, that's the key aspect of meditation. By allowing ourselves to slow down, we expand our awareness beyond a single perspective. What is it like to be with ourselves when we are not distracted? With practice, we can observe our sensations moment to moment with gentle curiosity. Perhaps it's the rise of suppressed emotions; other times it's a physical release of tension. Frequently, random images pop up for me, and more recently, it's been an enjoyment of being in self-warmth. At times, I bring in external elements to the experience- the sound of the birds outside, the smell of a flower, the feel of a breeze. These tend to counterbalance any discomfort, enhance a peaceful moment, or connect back to the present. If you are looking for suggestions on meditation, let me know! I'd be happy to help. Wishing you a mindful start to the holiday season! Be well,


Tammy


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