“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think: ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore’. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
― Haruki Murakami
When I run a meditation class I usually ask participants what they hope to achieve, or learn, through meditation. Some will say that they want to learn to control their thoughts and emotions. I can understand this impulse. Indeed, many meditation traditions insist that this is just what we must do: because the mind is a wild and unruly beast, and it needs to be tamed.
Instead of instructions (or rules) to be followed, there are three conditions influencing what one does as meditation. These three conditions are obvious, commonplace, and concrete, so much so, I will use the words my students have repeatedly chosen for them: gentleness, permission, and interest.