Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Challenge: Week Three

Week three of the meditation challenge is similar to the mindfulness on the body approach of week two, with a slightly different focus.

"In week three," Sharon says, "we take that same quality of open spacious interested awareness and apply it to our emotions and thoughts."

What if we're having trouble with the challenge? Meditation is a habit, like any other, and it can be tough to add it to our daily routine. What should we be looking for as encouragement?

"We're building the capacity to be with thoughts and emotions. The opening to the body can be very enriching." And if you're having trouble, Sharon suggests walking meditation. "You may well feel more alive and connected to your experience." Particularly if you have trouble with nodding off!

You'll also begin to "be able to see the difference between when you're connected and when you're not. And you see that you have a choice. "

How is week three similar to week two?

"In many ways it’s very similar. It’s like we’re building the capacity to be with thoughts and emotions by being with the body."

In earlier weeks, we tried our best to let go of any emotions that came up. Week three is different. "When a strong emotion comes up, not a wispy thing, but with a bang, you turn your attention to it. You might try labeling it, anger, anger, joy, joy, and you try to make the distinction between the emotion and the story."

"You might see what the emotion feels like in your body. If it’s lasting a bit you might look at the feeling in your body. Or you can ask what is anger? What are you feeling? What’s going on? When we pay attention, you might see that anger is more than one thing."

At the same time, though, Sharon suggested we not delve into the story we tell ourselves about why we're feeling a certain emotion. So it's more about the quality of the emotion than the story behind it.

"I would try to set aside the story. It’s not like it’s not worth doing ever. You might want to do it at another time. But it’s also the case that you might have an intuition, you just sense 'oh, that’s a pattern.'"

So while we can have insights, we don't necessarily look for them. We just observe the quality of our experience.

Please let me know how the challenge is going for you, through comments here or on the Facebook page. And remember that you can always begin, and you can always begin again.


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