There are many obstacles that arise while we are meditating and trying to develop mindfulness. For example, we can fall asleep during meditation and I previously discussed Jack Kornfield’s ideas for overcoming this obstacle during meditation.
Diana Winston has also explored some obstacles to meditation in her podcasts offered through the weekly MARC meditation podcast series. What I want to focus on in this post is her discussion of “desire” as an obstacle and her suggested ways of dealing with it.
During the day, we may spend a lot of time revisiting recent pleasant experiences, anticipating future enjoyable events or fantasising about some ideal image of our self engaged in a satisfying activity. These reflective or anticipatory thoughts can express our desires or cravings and become a barrier to meditation. However, we have to learn to control our thoughts during meditation.
For example, we may be meditating through focusing on our breath and find our mind wandering to the forthcoming overseas trip or dinner date. Diana offers a meditation to help remove the obstacle of desire and restore our focus.
Overcoming the obstacle of desire during meditation
Desire and wanting are natural human emotions but they can get in the road of our developing mindfulness through meditation. The first step in reducing desire during meditation is to become grounded. Being grounded enables us to shift the focus from our thoughts to our breath and the physical sensations of muscular tension.
Once we have relaxed into a meditative state, we can then bring our attention to the present moment and become aware of the desire – its nature, strength and pattern. We can also notice how we experience the desire in our body, how it is manifested – whether through shallowness of breath, muscular tightness, racing thoughts or any other manifestation.
Having become aware of the desire and its physical and emotional impact, we are then able to choose not to act on it – to develop some degree of self-management towards it. So, through clearly seeing the nature and strength of a desire during meditation, we are better able to manage it and not be diverted by it or react to it.
As we grow in mindfulness through meditation, we become more adept in being grounded, in fully facing our distracting desires and learning to manage them so that we are not at their mercy.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
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