Mindfulness Meditation

Ajahn Chah said, “In our practice, we think that noises, cars, voices, sights, are distractions that come and bother us when we want to be quiet. But who is bothering whom? Actually, we are the ones who go and bother them.

We go out and bother them? I think he’s saying that we bother ourselves over these distractions with an expectation that everything will be quiet to accommodate us. Or that the environment will adjust itself to our expectations. Even if we were sitting in a cave rather than a corner or our living room, there would be some kind of noise around us. Nature is pretty busy! So much of our suffering is caused by our expectations. The wonderful thing about mindfulness practice is that we can see how our expectations create stress and and try letting go of how life “should” be or feel or what “should” be happening… maybe just saying, “expectation, expectation, expectation” and then noticing how expectation feels in the body. Or how it feels to try to let our expectations go and just sit accepting what is rather than being disappointed with what isn’t?

Then he says “see the world as a mirror” … yes, we already “know” this, but do we really know that the world is showing us things about ourselves all the time? Our struggles, our likes and dislikes, our neuroses are so in our faces as we live in the world. Maybe we have the same kind difficulty in relationships, with money, in our work life. Meditation offers us the opportunity to look at these difficulties, realize the similarities and what we might be missing and make a change. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the way we think about what’s happening. This is the only way that real change can happen–through understanding, through seeing life as it is.

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