As part of our #MeditationHacks series, Konda Mason, a teacher in the Vipassana tradition, answers the question: “Is it OK if I find other ways to be meditative besides sitting on a cushion following my breath?”

Photo by Artem Beliaikin.

I don’t really like formal meditation that much but I love going for contemplative walks, listening to beautiful music, reading Buddhist books, and other things that feel spiritual to me. Is it OK if I find other ways to be meditative besides sitting on a cushion following my breath?

Konda Mason: What a great question, and not an uncommon experience. Our world is filled with a plethora of wonder and beauty that ignites a sense of awe in so many ways. Walks in the woods, music and the arts, sitting on the beach… this human experience is truly a gift filled with an abundance of opportunities to feel a sense of stillness and peace in our lives.

What happens with Vipassana meditation is oftentimes the opposite of peacefulness. The mind can become so busy in the so-called “stillness” that we feel we are doing it all wrong and would rather read about the dharma than actually meditate!

Over time, as you bring your awareness first to the breath, followed by the body, feelings, and thoughts, insight into the present moment, absent of preference or judgment, begins to emerge in mini-increments.

If you hang in there, though, this busy mind can become the doorway to experience insight, which is what the word Vipassana actually means. Over time, as you bring your awareness first to the breath, followed by the body, feelings, and thoughts, insight into the present moment, absent of preference or judgment, begins to emerge in mini-increments.

These moments of insight are priceless! They can become an extremely useful tool in your everyday life as you navigate the internal and external challenges of being human.

So I recommend do both: enjoy your meditative experiences off the cushion AND keep your curiosity ignited to explore the possibility of transformative insights that may occur from a regular meditation practice. Good luck!

Read more from our #MeditationHacks series…



Vipassana teacher Konda Mason answers the question: “Is it OK if I find other ways to be meditative besides sitting on a cushion following my breath?”

 



Author and musician Miguel Chen comforts a practitioner who doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to enlightenment.

 



Rev. angel Kyodo williams, founder of the Center for Transformative Change, advises on what to do when confronted with too many choices.

 



Author and psychoanalyst, Pilar Jennings, offers advice to a practitioner who continues to feel unworthy and unloved.

 



Anita Feng, teacher for the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, helps a practitioner navigate the path between drowsiness and daydreaming.

 



Buddhist teacher Mushim Patricia Ikeda suggest alternatives when meditation becomes too painful.

 



Lila Kate Wheeler, author and trainer at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, answers what to do if you don’t like to meditate.

 



A Mahayana Buddhist who is encouraged to practice for the benefit of all sentient being feels like they are only practicing for their own benefit. Venerable Thubten Chodron answers.

 



Josh Bartok, a Zen teacher, suggest what to do if meditating leads to an unstable mind.

 



A reader asks Sylvia Boorstein: “What’s the point of practice if it’s not making me a better person?”

 



A new meditator’s spouse disapproves of their newfound practice. Susan Piver, founder of The Open Heart Project, answers.

 



Author and lay Zen teacher Susan Moon is asked: “Should I stop meditating when emotions begin to overwhelm me?”

 



An isolated practitioner asks dharma teacher Mitchell Ratner where to look for community.

 

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