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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mindful Perseverance

“Everyone knows that it takes time and perseverance to master an art, a sport, a language, or any other discipline. Why should it not be the same with training the mind? It is a worthwhile adventure. We are not talking about acquiring some ordinary ability, but rather about a new way of being that will determine the quality of our entire life.”

As millions of people around the world watch and read about the Winter Olympic Games one story that gets told repeatedly, yet with always a different personal twist, is the story of preparation and training required of olympic athletes.  For many it has been a lifetime of preparation, including not only success but also failure.

Perhaps you have seen the television commercial running during The Olympics that shows numerous cuts of children and young adults taking spills on the ice and snow as they learn and practice. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it now at this link.  Of course like all commercials it is trying to sell us products, however the real message of the video is in the final frame, "...falling only makes us stronger..."  

Matthiew Ricard reminds us above that training our minds also takes the same kind of dedication and perseverance required of athletes and artists.   Dedication implies taking the risk to learn and master something new.  Perseverance implies failure, then getting back up, going back into the game, dusting ourselves off and trying again, and again, and again.

Some people, including me, when first trying meditation, mindfulness or other contemplative exercises find it difficult to slow our minds down, much less clear them of random thoughts and distractions.  However when we begin with small steps and stay with it regularly and long enough we learn it's OK and natural to have thoughts and distractions do occur.  Letting go of them as they come is like getting back up on the skis or skates over and over again.  

The next thing we know 5 minutes a day becomes 10 becomes 30.  And even though the thoughts and distractions keep coming we become more adept at letting them go.  Then one day we realize we're noticing things in our daily lives we've never seen, heard, felt, or tasted before.  We're flying down the slope and spinning in the middle of the rink!

1 comment:

  1. This gives me hope that with practice I can do better at silencing my mind !