Let go with meditation

Since I was a small child I've been a very thoughtful person. This has helped me to look critically at the world, to discriminate between what is useful, life affirming and beautiful, and what could be called unjust, ugly or destructive. But as time has passed my mind has become more and more dominated by these thoughts, most of which seem to be passing judgment on the world around me, clinging to something I think I need or yearning for something I don't have but feel I cannot do without. The thoughts are endless. They take up valuable space in my mind that could be used for more useful purposes and at times they can be downright tormenting.

When I meditate it's like I take a step back from my mind. I watch the river of thoughts as it flows along but I don't get into the river. I let the river go its own way.

The technique I use for meditation is mentioned in a book by Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön called When Things Fall Apart. She writes 'I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us... It was all about letting go of everything.' Pema suggests that instead of focusing on the total in and out flow of the breath we concentrate our attention lightly on the out-breath, allowing our consciousness to rest momentarily in the space between so that for a moment there is no object of meditation at all, only space and stillness. We completely let go.

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This form of meditation allows me to find again and again that still empty space where I become everything and nothing and am no longer constrained by the limitations of what Eckhart Tolle calls 'object consciousness', that perspective on the world that expects to find meaning, fulfillment and happiness in some person, place or ideal situation, and which over and over leads us to disappointment. 

Practicing meditation means making the commitment to put aside a little time each day so that we can practice becoming aware of the things we are attached to, the things that we feel we need but that are really holding us back. I mediate for just twenty minutes morning and night: a very small commitment with a very great impact on my life.