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Everything starts with the mind. To experience lasting happiness, peace, and love, we need to turn inwards. As the previous article said, yoga is about calming the mind. When you remove the mental obstacles, you can experience unity between yourself and the rest of the universe. From this perspective, there is only love.
It isn’t so easy though, because our minds are constantly taking us out of reality, creating endless stories that separate us from our true selves. This is especially a problem when we have negative thoughts about ourselves, they make it very hard for us to see reality. How can you experience peace if you are inflicting mental violence on yourself?
With modern society being the way it is, it is no surprise that many of us are so hard on ourselves. It is very easy to think we are not good enough or compare ourselves to other people. But it does not have to be this way. By learning to meditate we can get control of our thoughts and develop a more loving attitude towards ourselves.
When you meditate, you are bringing your attention to a single object (at this retreat we will be using the feeling of loving-kindness). Before long, you will notice that your mind has wandered away from the feeling and you will be thinking about other things. You forget that you are supposed to be meditating. Some people think that when this happens, it means they are not good enough at meditation, or that they are doing something wrong. But actually, it is very good to notice that the mind has wandered. It helps us to understand the mind! Even if your mind wanders a million times during a meditation session, this is not a bad thing. The meditation practice is simply to notice and bring your attention back to the object of meditation.
It is fascinating to notice how the mind is during meditation, you will see how little control you have over it. One thought just follows another on auto-pilot. Who is actually doing the thinking? Why is it so difficult to stay focused on a single object? When we meditate, we do not judge ourselves and worry that we are doing it wrong, all we need to do is observe the mind. And with time, you will find it easier to stay focused.
Calming the mind in meditation brings the same effect into your daily life. You will learn to recognise when you are thinking unhelpful thoughts and be able to let go of them. But do not worry if progress seems slow, the main thing is just to do the practice. Even people who are very experienced meditators often have many thoughts during a session.
Overthinking and self-criticism are the biggest obstacles we have to self-love, and by removing these obstacles we evolve and expand. It will become much easier to connect with other people and to help them. If you are peaceful, you will notice that the people around you will become more peaceful. It spreads.
Self-love is the beginning and the end of the spiritual path. When we start from a place of self-love, we practice in a gentle, non-judgmental way that brings powerful results. And the end is the realisation that there is no separation between yourself and the universe, so there is only love. Meditation is one of the most powerful ways to realise this.