Innovation and meditation are words that don’t often go together. In fact, in some circles, exploration is actively discouraged. The assumption is that the teacher or tradition know best, and that since the teachings and techniques have been around for a few thousand years, they can’t possibly be improved upon.
But lots of things have been done a certain way for thousands of years. That doesn’t make them right. And it doesn’t mean that there might not be better or more appropriate ways to do them.
So, this month, I’d like to encourage you to innovate. Perhaps you could invent your own meditation technique? Perhaps you could try something based on your own intuition rather than what you’ve read in a book, or listened to on an App?
Here are four ideas that might give you a sense of the options available once you adopt a more exploratory attitude.
Instead of counting the breath, count your thoughts. Each time you notice a thought, celebrate as though you just scored the winning goal at a World Cup Final.
Instead of trying to focus on just one thing see how many things you can focus on simultaneously. You could start by focusing on two things, (e.g. sensations in your feet AND hands, the most subtle AND the most obvious sound you can hear, a painful spot in your body AND the breath).
Find some place in your body that feels tense, but make NO effort to relax it. Instead, see if you can hold on to the tension as you examine it in forensic detail. Pull out your metaphorical microscope and explore the sensations as though your life depended on noticing some nanoscopic subtlety.
Empathise with your emotions. When you feel a feeling, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, make no effort to calm yourself down or change the way you feel. Instead, simply consider what it would be like to be that emotion. What is it trying to express? Can you intuit its needs? How could you support it?
I found the course to be very practical.
I like the way the lessons have built on each other — starting from the basics and leading into more layers of understanding.
Everything is presented clearly and simply in a way that kind of demystifies meditation without reducing its impact or importance.