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Mindful : June 2015
Shauna Shapiro, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and the coauthor of two books, The Art and Science of Mindfulness and Mindful Discipline. Most meditators have had the experience of sitting down to meditate only to find ourselves com- pletely on automatic pilot—as if meditation itself had become just one more thing on the to-do list. We don’t even quite remember why we’re meditating in the first place. And yet a central question for anyone who medi- tates is: “Why am I doing this?” What is your reason for meditating? What are your goals or aspirations? Reflecting on the intention that underlies our meditation practice—why we meditate—is an essen- tial part of the practice itself. If we don’t consider our intention in meditating, it’s easy to get lost. Our practice becomes just another rote activity, such as brushing our teeth or going to the gym. But the invitation of meditation is the opposite of this automatic pilot mode, encourag ing us instead to wake up to a conscious way of living, both on and off the meditation cushion or chair. Reflecting on our intention, on what we value most, helps us wa ke up. Our intention is simply knowing why we are doing what we are doing. It reflects our personal vision, goal, or aspiration. Intention sets the compass of the heart. Sitting Isn’t All About Technique And yet, often, when we begin a meditation practice, the focus is on the how: How do I practice? What are the instructions? The why is often passed over in our eagerness to get to the behaviors (of mind a nd body) of the meditation practice itself. Too often we dive directly into the “technique” without creating the container or context. Knowing the why behind what we are doing is equally as important as understand- ing the how. As opportunities to lea rn mindfulness meditation expand, the explicit role that inten- tion can play in developing an ongoing meditation practice may be a n essential and often overlooked dimension of the practice itself. Traditionally, the study of meditation begins with explicit reflection on one’s intention a nd motivation for beginning a meditation practice. The process of deeply exa mining a nd developing our intentions can t ra nsform the meditation practice, giving it life, energy, a nd direction. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Ba sed Stress Reduction, puts it, “ Your intentions set the stage for what is possible. → PHOTOGRAPHBYJOSHUASIMPSON June 2015 mindful 73 MINDFULNESS HAS A HOME IN LOS ANGELES NOURISHING LOVING RELATIONSHIPS with Tara Brach, May 9th __ _______ THE SECRET TO PURE PERFORMANCE with George Mumford, May 30th & 31st __ _______ THE STATE OF MIND CALLED “BEAUTIFUL” with Ven. Dr. Bhikkhuni Pannavati, June 13th & 14th __ _______ MAKE ME ONE WITH EVERYTHING with Lama Surya Das, June 27th Classes|Retreats|Speaker Series Professional Workshops WWW.INSIGHTLA.ORG Mindful_JuneIssue.indd 1 3/13/15 12:22 PM