On Meditation

From Vulnerability, Power and the Healing Relationship by John Wellwood

Meditation cultivates unconditional friendliness through teaching you how to just be, without doing anything, without holding onto anything, without trying to think good thoughts, get rid of bad thoughts, or achieve a pure state of mind. This is a radical practice. There is nothing else like it. Normally we do everything we can to avoid just being. When left alone with ourselves, without a project to occupy us, we become nervous. We start judging ourselves or thinking about what we should be doing or feeling. We start putting conditions on ourselves, trying to arrange our experience so that it measures up to our inner standards. Since this inner struggle is so painful, we are always looking for something to distract us from being with ourselves.

In meditation practice, you work directly with your confused mind states, without waging crusades against any aspect of your experience. You let all your tendencies arise, without trying to screen anything out, manipulate experience in any way, or measure up to any ideal standard. Allowing yourself the space to be as you are – letting whatever arises arise, without fixating on it and coming back to simple presence – this is perhaps the most loving and compassionate way you can treat yourself. It helps you make friends with the whole range of your experience.

As you simplify in this way, you start to feel your presence as wholesome in and of itself. You don’t have to prove that you are good. You discover a self-existing sanity that lies deeper than all thought or feeling. You appreciate the beauty of just being awake, responsive and open to life. Appreciating this basic, underlying sense of goodness is the birth of maiti – unconditional friendliness toward yourself.

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