Meditation: use what arises

Man standing in field watching sun in blue sky. Use what arises.
Use What Arises

Earlier on this blog (and in the book Make Every Move a Meditation) you learned a wider variety of awareness techniques and another splendid thing about meditation becomes clear: you can use what’s handy, whatever aspect of experience occurs. You can use what arises.

You may set an intention to count your breath during Jazzercise, but a few minutes into class, a mild arm cramp draws your attention. It’s not deep enough to worry or stop you, but the sensation distracts.

Earlier in your meditation journey, you might not have developed the inner fitness to return your attention to the breath. You might not have even noticed your attention shifting from your breath to the pain. But now, having developed those skills, you will remember. Choose whether to remain with the breath or to change your object of meditation and investigate the unpleasant sensations. Making that choice develops your calm and  concentration even more.

Be with reality, with what is.

In sitting meditation, the teacher may encourage you to let the body ask three times before you shift your position. Whether it’s an itchy nose, knee pain, or a numb hip—you notice, and return to the breath. The third time the sensation arises, you choose. It is intentional. Tell yourself, “I choose to move my awareness.” That new spot becomes your focus.

Do this with your movement meditation. Choose the object of meditation and when (or if) to shift your awareness. Let your mind ask three times.

The first two times, return to the original object. After the third time, choose whether to make that your object of meditation. Make that mental switch intentional.

Use what arises.

You started with the breath, but that mild pain arose. Let it ask a few times, showing it your intention. After the third “ask,” you choose whether to shift your attention. If you change objects, sink into the new one as deeply as you might have the breath. It’s your object now. This is an aspect of free-floating awareness, free but still mindful.

Using what arises with intention makes meditation even more adaptable. It trains you to go with the flow. You have that choice to shift gears. You don’t have to stop meditating or try to control it or escape from it. Dive into the experience that presents itself in the moment. No need to fight anything, especially yourself.

Be with reality, with what is.

I have included more than twenty “Your Turn” exercises in the book Make Every Move a Meditation.

This excerpt is from Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney. Buy the paperback, ebook, or audiobook now at Amazon or Mango Publishing Group.