Today I’m going to talk a little bit about two important qualities that will make a great difference in the way we practice meditation. I’m referring to consistency and intelligence. I find it fascinating how they support and influence one another. If you ever feel stuck in your meditation practice it might well be because the two qualities are not balanced properly.
Those who are able to stick to a certain training routine are usually developing skills faster than those of us who are not. Doing a task consistently will almost certainly guarantee that you are getting better at it. Consistency is the mother of all good habits and skills. Unfortunately this works the other way around too.
If we are doing something over and over again, we are getting better at it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s conscious or unconscious, skillful or unskillful. Most of the things we do are unconscious and automatic responses to life situations. Mindfulness practice eliminates the element of being unconscious and offers us a platform on which we can grow personally and spiritually. Once conscious, we can train our ability to be consistent and skillful with our practice. In terms of spiritual training, consistency should arise in tandem with intelligence so that it can lead us to a more happy and fulfilling existence.
Intelligence allows us to adjust our consistent effort so that it yields proper results. Doing something that doesn’t work over and over again is a clear sign of consistently lacking intelligence. Intelligent effort always checks one’s actions against their results. It also compares one’s progress to the outcomes that are to be expected. Thus it enables us to abandon what’s unskillful and cultivate what’s skillful.
A truly intelligent person doesn’t always follow personal preferences, emotional states or conditioned thought patterns when it comes to Meditation. They mostly follow what produces the right results consistently. The ability to abandon what might feel good now but doesn’t help in the long run serves them well. Also they are able to cultivate what appears as challenging or difficult knowing that it yields positive results in the long run. Those of us lacking in intelligence often repeat the same harmful actions while expecting or demanding life to get better at the same time.
Instead of focusing on the technique or practice methods, focus on intelligence. Ask yourself frequently what you are doing right now and what the results of your actions will likely be. Is what you are doing mentally, emotionally and physically in alignment with your desired outcome? Consistently opt for intelligence when analyzing your actions, your goals and your present direction in life.
It is also important to be intelligently consistent. It otherwise might become simply another tool of self-hate. This practice for example could easily turn into an instrument that fuels guilt, shame and low self-esteem if done without discernment. One aspect of intelligence is vigilance. You need to know clearly what kind of state your mind is in right now. This gives you a good base for reflection and adjustment. It can show you what direction you are currently moving in and give you a good chance of adjusting if necessary. Focus on your present step – do it well and it will guide you towards peace. Support your consistent effort with intelligence and it will surely lead to fulfillment here and now.
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Tobi has been studying and practicing meditation since 2002. He stayed 7 years in a Tibetan Buddhist Temple and currently lives in Thailand where he founded the Dharana Meditation and Retreat Center in Phuket with his wife Parn. In Thailand he continued his practice and found a spiritual home within local Theravada Buddhism. Tobi is known for an open and relaxed teaching style focusing mainly on a practical application of mindfulness meditation within a modern society. The direct experience of what the practical teachings point to is of foremost importance to him.