Taking the wrong medicine

Confused woman shrugs. Taking the wrong medicine.
Taking the Wrong Medicine

Shinzen often talks about the temptation to do what’s easy or comes naturally. He calls it, “taking the wrong medicine.” If for example you prefer guided workouts, a broad focus of attention, or listening to music during movement meditation, nothing is inherently wrong with those things.

But what happens when your music player dies or when you’re pushing yourself hard (in a safe way) and the intense mental effort requires focused attention? You already know this, but a day will come when there is nothing between you and a huge wall of suffering except how well you have  trained your mind.

This is why you might want to work on things that don’t come naturally.

In many areas of life—business, relationships, hobbies—it makes sense to hone skills around your natural talents. You’re already ahead of the crowd.

Not so with meditation. You need and want the most robust set of mind tools at your disposal.

For example, I love a single-pointed focus of awareness. Choosing one point and staying there drops me into deep concentration. But what happens at mile 22 when fatigue makes everything hurt? I can choose one point and do my best to stay there, but when the pinpoint disappears, what do I do?

Having the ability to widen my concentration, leaving my awareness open to whatever flows, allows me to work with anything that arises. That’s why it’s been helpful to vary my practice and cultivate readiness for what may come.

The advanced awareness techniques I’ve presented in the past few blog posts (and the previous pages of the book Make Every Move a Meditation), while difficult to develop, might be the most beneficial tactics to use if your preferred workouts don’t have repetitive movements.

During a game of a  fast-moving sport such as tennis, pickleball, racquetball, basketball, volleyball, or downhill skiing, the ability to remain focused in the moment while the object of meditation rapidly changes will help you excel at your sport while providing an opportunity for insight.

Next, I’ll talk about emotions, what they are made of, and how to work with them during your movement meditation.

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.