Saturday, April 30, 2011

Excavating the Heart through Meditation

I heard things like "love is your true nature" or "the heart has a natural tendency toward compassion." Now I had already been meditating for some time, examining my inner-world through mindfulness, and I didn't see any of the love and compassion of which these teachers spoke.

When I looked into my heart and mind I only saw fear, anger, hatred, judgment, more fear, and a lot of lustful cravings. When I sat quietly, paying attention to my breath, my attention was repeatedly drawn into fantasies of vengeful destruction or pornographic sex:

One moment I was bashing in my stepfather's head with a Louisville slugger, the next I was in a threesome with Madonna [pictured here in green cap] and Traci Lords [against wall].

I was pretty sure that was all that was in there. Mindfulness helped me deal with my inner confusion. It allowed to me to ignore my mind at times or not take it so personally at others, but it didn't seem to be magically creating a loving heart out of my inner-critic/terrorist/pervert/tough guy.

In the early days of my meditation practice I was only interested in mindfulness. I was introduced to breath awareness meditations and as a result I experienced the direct benefits of concentration and mindfulness. I immediately found temporary relief from fear of the future and shame about the past.

Learning to train my mind to pay close attention to the present moment was difficult, but fruitful. I experienced the immediate, if only momentary, relief from the suffering I created with my mind's tendency to be lost in the future and past.

Before I began my meditation practice, when my mind started to worry about what would happen in the future, I would get completely sucked into the fears and often become convinced that the worst-case scenario would play out.

Mindfulness gave me the tools to let go of those thoughts and to bring my attention into the body's experience of the breath. Mindfulness made sense to me and it wasn't difficult to gain a verified faith [saddha] in that aspect of Buddhism. For me, mindfulness proved to be the doorway to the rest of the Buddha's Dharma, or teachings. I came to believe that it was going to be possible to train my mind, but I still had no hope for my heart. More

"Meditate and Destroy"