The ostensible purpose of mindfulness meditation is to stay in the moment. One does this by watching the breath. Just watching the breath. Not thinking about breathing, not planning the week, not obsessing about ice cream. By watching the breath only, one is in the moment. Not the past, not the future, just now.
What the Buddhists call the self is that portion of our brain which wants to stay busy. So, we think. Thinking about most anything. Some people have feelings, but I mostly think about feelings. We are to note the thought of feeling, and return to the breath. The goal is like cleaning the garage, getting rid of junk and having the other stuff organized so we don’t have to think about it.
Carol and I start our mornings with fifteen minutes of meditation. We both agree about considering the meditation a success if we are able to watch more than two breaths. I beat myself up about this. What the hell am I doing this for if I can’t stay with my breath more than two times. I must be some sort of failure. When I complain about this to accomplished meditators, I hear “That is just where you are.” That is no help, thank you very much.
Can’t they wave their wands and create an enlightenment spell? Where is Hermione when I need her? In fact, I am making some progress. Some mornings I can stay with two or three breaths several times. During longer meditations I sometimes can sustain for several minutes. If I can’t stay with the breath, I pray. I pray for others, I pray for myself, or I just pray with gratitude.
I also use mantras. I justify them by believing my ADD doesn’t allow me to meditate like normies. After all, people have used mantras for thousands of years. I also blame my addictions, as if people haven’t overcome addictions with meditation for thousands of years.
Well, despite my resistance and whining, I am actually getting somewhere with this mindfulness business. I have tried lots of stuff, trying to get myself somewhat lined out in life, and mindfulness meditation is what works for me.
Now, this mindfulness is not a standalone thing. It is Buddhist. That means The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. They explain why we are always thinking, mostly for no good reason, and provide guidelines for going through life without doing harm. I dodge them by telling myself I can’t find a clear, brief explanation, as if Mr. Google doesn’t exist. Well, I do a fairly good job of following them. Most of the time.
At age 74 I feel I am finally on the way. What more is there?