The Journey of thousand miles starts with a very small first step.    Having difficulty with meditation, a young monk seeks guidance from his...

The Journey of thousand miles starts with a very small first step. 


Having difficulty with meditation, a young monk seeks guidance from his master. “Great leader, I can’t seem to sit in a quiet place for long periods of time without loud thoughts entering my mind, what should I do?”

“Go to the mountains and sit there for 12 hours and meditate, do not move for 12 hours straight, then come and speak to me”

Being respectful of his leader’s wishes the young monk made his way to the mountains and sat on a beautiful mountain ridge for 12 hours. He returned to the monastery with deep concern. “I am sorry great leader, I have failed you, I could not sit and meditate for the 12 hours, thoughts would rush uncontrollably through my mind at times”

The elder monk stares at him with a pleasant smile of encouragement at him, “tomorrow you will go to your mountain ridge again for 12 hours but this time you will try and think the whole time”.

Feeling relieved he was not in trouble from not being able to being able to meditate, he politely agrees to the task. He is very confident that tomorrow will be a success because he has always been able to think, it came so natural to him.

The next day he awoke early and headed to the mountain with excitement. He was confident that he would be able to accomplish this new task. After arriving at this beautiful mountain ridge, he settles down and starts to storm up brilliant thoughts for the first hour or so. The second hour passes by with ease as well. As the end of the third hour the young monk starts to lose his momentum in new thoughts and starts to struggle to think of new things. He starts to feel frustrated by the 5th hour his thoughts start to repeat themselves and the originality has faded away. A short time later he begins to have large periods of space between his thoughts and he worries that his leader will be greatly disappointed with him as he arrives back to the monastery.

The elder monk greeted him at the gates asking him how his journey went. With a defeated look upon his face the monk replied, “I have failed you again, my original thoughts eventually stopped and they began to repeat themselves, and at some point began to have moment where thoughts didn’t come in.”

With great joy across his face, he gently puts his arm over the shoulder of the young monk in comfort. “You have not failed anyone, but rather experienced exactly what you should have.”


A monk teaching a westerner to meditate at Phnom Bakheng


When beginning your meditation journey acknowledge that thoughts will continue to arise. Do not fight with your active mind but rather greet the thoughts will a smile of recognition and continue to focus on your breath. If you grab hold of these thoughts and start telling yourself you are failing at the process you create more resistance that comes between you and your breath. This is a practice that is developed through training the mind and body, not a switch you can turn on from sitting down and breathing right away. Trust the process to reveal more to you as you practice each day, going through the postures, alignment, and breathing techniques. We become a product of the action we take regularly; results are inevitable if you stick with it.


Do you meditate regularly?

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