Meditation and Observing the Background Processes of our Minds

Our words, thoughts and deeds are like our hair and skin. They are manifestations of our inner health. We apply conditioner to remedy dry, brittle hair, Clearasil or tea tree oil to acne, blush to a pale complexion. Likewise we apply apologies and remorse to harsh words, we indulge in or avoid our thoughts, and justify or regret (or both) our questionable deeds. At some point, we realize these solutions are too late, and rather than addressing the root cause, we’re playing whack-a-mole with our ailments.

Before attaining any skill in mindfulness meditation, with absolutely no experience or momentum on your side, you can begin to assess the quality of your mind. Even in five minutes – eyes closed, sitting still – you will observe various ongoing processes running in your mind. This is a snapshot of your inner experience which you may not have been aware of.

If you experience anxiety or anger or agitation during these five minutes, you can be sure that these processes, if left alone, will continue to run in the background of your mind throughout the entire day and indefinitely. They influence your every action and thought. Sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes it is painfully obvious.

Awareness of these running processes, however fragmented your attention may be at the start, will awaken you to the realization that there is a lot of work yet to be done. This is an excellent first step.

References

Mindfulness Meditation as a Buddhist Practice
Sam Harris with Joseph Goldstein – The Path and the Goal
Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction and psoriasis – Jon Kabat-Zinn