Meditation can sound easy – the principles underlying it are straightforward and the techniques that you will learn here are uncomplicated.
Are they simple? Yes. Does simple mean “simplistic”? The answer is “no”. Although your mind is unbelievably complicated, the principles underlying those complicated workings are very simple.
1. There’s a gap between stimulus and response.
Between someone speaking harshly to us (the stimulus), and our getting angry (the response), there is a gap.
2. There is choice in the gap.
We can choose how to respond. We can choose to allow our anger to develop, or to exercise patience, for example. In every moment this choice exists. We don’t have an unlimited menu of responses to choose from, but there are always choices.
And the more we practice meditation the more choices we have available to us.
3. The choices we make matter.
Some of our emotional states cause us and others grief. Getting angry when it’s not justified, hating someone, escapism, putting ourselves down, worrying, denial — all of these attitudes impair our happiness by causing conflict in our own hearts, and disharmony in our relations with others.
Other emotional states, like kindness, love, empathy, patience, respect for ourselves and others, tend to enrich our lives. We can choose to cultivate these qualities.
4. We can only choose if we have awareness.
Awareness, or mindfulness, is necessary. We have to be “awake” to spot unhelpful emotional patterns emerging, and to exercise choice.
These principles are very easy to understand, but pretty challenging to put into practice.