Morning Intention: Feelings Are A Guidance-System

** Morning Intention: To see mind-states as a guidance-system

One of the hardest things for us to learn is that our feelings are a guidance system. That sounds like good news, but in practice, we tend to see our difficult emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.) as evidence of failure, and because of course we don’t want to fail, we end up denying the existence of these feelings. It’s as though the GPS on someone’s phone told him to turn left but he thought, “I’m not the kind of person who turns left. Maybe if I turn right and think positively, I’ll ‘manifest’ the goal.” And so we go round and round in circles.

Meditation is a perfect place to see and change this habit of mind. As you sit and focus on your breath, you will see the part of your mind that wants the meditation to go a certain way. Maybe you wish you had more concentration. Maybe you wish your experience of the breath in the body was bigger and more rapturous. But every time the meditation doesn’t go the way you want it to (which is pretty much always) you have a choice: to see what is happening (a) as evidence of your failure or (b) as a sign pointing you to what you need to do next. If your mind is restless, the restlessness might be telling you to spend more time with the breath at one point. If your mind is feeling frustrated, the frustration might be telling you to open your awareness to your whole body. There are no final judgments, only signs pointing the way.

So here’s the practice: Today, sit and focus on your breath. At some point, open your awareness to your full body. But keep asking, “Where do I need to be now?” Maybe you need to stay with the breath at one point. Maybe you need to explore your body. But learn to put aside what you wish were the case. Accept and learn from what is the case, and the meditation, like all of life, will be joyful.

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