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Attention = Intention

Meditation has been a part of my daily life for almost 3 years now and I think I finally have a handle on it. Not mastery, by any stretch. Let’s just say I have had lots of “aha” moments lately.

The people I follow on various platforms, for guided meditations often say things like “no mud, no lotus” and talk about attention and intention, as in “you are where your attention is”. It has taken me all this time to get what they were talking about.

Sure, I understand the concept of focus and working through things to get to outcomes. But it is so much more than that.

What I have learned through meditation is that we are often on autopilot and not present in our own life. We are either mired in the past (events, emotions) or dreaming of the future. Rarely are we in the here and now.

If your life is not where you think it should be by now, with all your efforts and hard work, perhaps it is time to see where your attention often is.

Looking at the external manifestations of your life will give you clues as to where your attention has been. How is your health? Your bank account? Your relationship with your partner? Or your children? Yep, where you are in your life is a culmination of where you put and keep your attention. We are either living in the past or future thinking, rarely experiencing what is right in front of us. Meditation is the key to help you master your attention through intention.

It is also the place to embrace your suffering. That is where “no mud, no lotus” comes in. This concept is explained in No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thích Nhất Hạnh, who entreats us to use our meditation practice to embrace and understand our suffering. Suffering is the other side of happiness and you can’t have one without the other. Get yourself into a centered space where you examine what you are suffering from, and not shy away from it. Rather, try to understand it, from an objective, non-judgmental point of view. And understand, like the mud, suffering is necessary for the lotus to bloom.

When I meditate I often think of Byron Katie’s The Work and the empirical questions she poses: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it is true? Etc. which is all a meditative process based on inquiry, to divine the answers that are already within us. Asking ourselves these questions allows us to see the problem, and ourselves with clarity. We may not like what comes up, but we will know it is true. And when we know this deep within ourselves, we expand our awareness of ourselves.

I encourage you to try meditation, either by seeking out a class, a guided meditation that you can easily follow or by sitting on your own and quieting your mind. You never know what will come of it. But something surely will.

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