Good evening and welcome to Monday Group Meditation, we will be sitting from 7:30 to 10:00 PM EST. It is not necessary to sit for the entire extended time, which is set up to make it convenient for people in four North American Time Zones; sit for as long as you like and when it is most convenient for you.
Monday Group Meditation is open to everyone, believers and non-believers of all stripes who are interested in gathering in silence. If you are new to meditation and would like to try it for yourself, Mindful Nature gave a good description of one way to meditate in an earlier diary, copied and pasted below:
"It is a matter of focusing attention mostly. In many traditions, the idea is to sit and focus on the rising and falling of the breath. Not controlling it, but sitting in a relaxed fashion and merely observing experiences of breathing, sounds, etc. Be aware of your thoughts, but don't engage in them. When your mind wanders (it will, often), then return to focus on breath and repeat."
This week I’ve been giving a lot of thought to attention. Since leaving my job at the end of November, and due to the fact I live alone, the big Winter we are having has resulted in a kind of forced retreat for me. I’ve had a lot of time with my thoughts, and honestly I can say my life is really out of balance at the moment with too much time on my own and not enough time spent with others. Externally there has been a lot of overcast skies, frigid temps and poor driving conditions that keep one inside, and oh the snow! It seems as if it snows some every day. All of this has left me feeling vaguely depressed.
So this week I wondered if it was possible, as an act of will, to lift myself out of my malaise simply by directing my attention. Experimenting with memories of a time in my life when I experienced causeless joy, I tried to remember my way into the feeling with poor results. It worked better when I meditated with the intention to get in touch with the feeling, and then worked with actively directing my heart/mind to return to the feeling during mundane awareness; I’m not dancing any jigs, but I can honestly say I am feeling a good bit better with no external change in circumstances.
Several years ago at Street Prophets I wrote about attention:
While life may be filled with infinite possibilities, we humans are limited by the function of our brains. In Psychology class we were taught that the human brain can pay attention to seven pieces of information, plus or minus three. From moment to moment our lives ride on just exactly where we are directing our attention. When it comes down to it, at the end of our lives if we are able to go back and review everything we did, said and thought, it will all come down to what attracted our attention.Seven plus or minus three is a pretty narrow range when you consider all the things vying for our attention. Looking at life from this perspective really distills it to its barest essence.
The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.-- Sharon Salzberg