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Is the ultimate goal of meditation to focus our attention on the quality of the present moment, ignoring the future, the past, and our own inner commentary?

Imagine your inner life as a large community with a lot of different voices where everyone wants and needs to be heard.

You have voices that keep you safe, that make sure you behave appropriately, vulnerable voices, child voices, ancient wisdom voices protective and critical voices. Some voices are more dominant than others. For instance you may have a strong caregiver voice and you identify as someone who’s a care giver, you also have a authoritarian voice that’s not as loud but comes up out of no where sometimes.

Have you ever met someone with a sweet biddable nature who suddenly erupts when something really pisses them off or maybe they are being pushed past their edge or they aren’t being appreciated? It’s like they suddenly become a totally different person.

Have you ever seen a big tough guy break down in tears when a loved one dies? A staid, bookish engineer who loves to pull down the blinds of his house and jam out to Lady Gaga?

That’s how it is with unclaimed voices, they come out in unguarded moments, moments of stress and of course calm. Meditation opens a gate because really your calming down the dominant voices, the voices you most identify with. It’s like the armor comes off, the gates become unlocked, and their is going to be a stampede.

In short your going to have a hard time “focusing your attention on the quality of the present moment” when possibly hundreds of voices haven’t been heard yet. Just like a village town hall meeting. This is their home and they all deserve to have a voice.

So ignore them? Have you ever heard the term what you resist persists, or have you ever tried to ignore a two year old when they want your attention? They just get louder, it’s the same way with less developed voices, lots of times they haven’t had a chance to develop so they are a bit like children who have been wanting attention for a long time. It’s not just a mistake to ignore them, in my imagination it’s kind of mean.

Given all I’ve said ultimately the answer to your question is no, the ultimate goal isn’t to ignore but to develop empathy and compassion for yourself and your voices.

Do this, think of that inner commentary as a person that you love, he or she is hurting, feels ignored, abandoned, let down and been has been treated like a second class citizen, they may have been unfairly ostracized and misunderstood. Now hear what the critical voice says to get that voice to shut up and get you to ignore that person. Would you say that to the person you love more than anybody else in the world?

So try this, instead instead of ignoring and rejecting, listen intently and let more of yourself in, more of your real desires and longings, along with it will come heartache and shame and a bunch of stuff. These are your real actual feelings and it’s what makes you you, it’s like a welcome to yourself.

In my imagination the goal of meditation it’s bringing your heart and mind together so you have a lot more tolerance for yourself and ultimately others.

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