Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MBSR #7 - Respite

 I've run into a number of non-meditators who say that meditation would be hard for them "because I can't stop my mind from thinking."  Meditation has been falsely advertised as "stopping the mind from thinking."  That's not meditation at all.   The brain is a thinking organ, the way that the heart is a pumping organ.  Asking it to stop doing its job would have disastrous consequences.  In my view "stopping the brain from thinking" is actually another definition for being dead... (!)  Meditation is a very different thing. 

This week after our MBSR class, I happened upon another word whose definitions are closer to my experience of what meditation is actually about. 

And that word is RESPITE
1.respite - a (temporary) relief from harm or discomfort           
2.respite - a pause from doing something
3.respite - an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
4. respite - a pause for relaxation; "people actually accomplish more when they take time for short rests"
5.respite - the act of reprieving; postponing or remitting punishment
Verb1.respite - postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal, such as an execution

I find the definition of "postponing punishment" especially appropriate.  I have met so many meditation students who live lives of punishing themselves.  In their minds, they re-run past failures and they create worst-case scenarios of the future.  In this way, they create mental torment for themselves. 

Meditation practice is a tool for giving oneself a much needed break.