“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

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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.

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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.

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