Running With The Mind Of Meditation

I’ve been reading a good book about meditation, Running With The Mind Of Meditation, which I got out from the library at the weekend. People often tell me that I should meditate to relax after the stress of work, but I sometimes find this counterproductive. On Sunday, for example, I read some of the book, until it mentioned offhand the need to meditate for at least half an hour at a time, which, even after I’d meditated for five minutes, left me stressed out and sleepless until two in the morning.

However, it’s still a good book. Later the author, Sakyong Mipham, mentions meditating for five minutes at a time, which is more my limit right now.

There’s an enduring metaphor of the mind being a wind-horse, rushing from place to place and not in control unless you work on it. Mipham mentions how people think it’s normal for the mind to flit from idea to idea, but that this is something we overcome through meditation. I’ve noticed as I sit for five minutes in the morning or evening, trying to concentrate on my breath, that images from throughout my life flash in front of me, accompanied just as fast by chains of thoughts as I try to pull myself back to clarity and calmness. And this is long before I try to contemplate some concept instead of just breathing.

But it’s also a book that feels aware of fallibility, not full of ex oriating passages about how you aren’t good at concentrating, but encouraging you to try for short periods until you can go longer. The parallel with training for running is well drawn. (He’s also quite clear that running is running, and not meditation, just as meditation is not running. You don’t see many people contemplating their way to a sub-three hour marathon.)

Getting up early and meditating for five minutes first thing seems to be keeping me calmer. Since I can’t run for another three weeks, I’ve no idea what it’s doing for my performance. But we shall see.


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