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The Discovery series feels overwhelming at times, what should I do?

This question reminded me very much of when I was learning to meditate. It felt like complete overload. And in fact some of the practices were even more complicated than the Discovery Series.

It's a bit like driving a car in a way. At first you do it on a quiet road and it seems quite easy, and after a little while you get to feel quite relaxed. Then you are maybe taken by the driving instructor onto a busy road and he is saying "watch out for this over here" and "remember to look over there" and "oh, don't forget to always do this". And what was previously a very relaxing experience suddenly feels a little overwhelming, so with so many different things to concentrate on.

But of course ultimately you are still doing exactly the same thing...just driving down the road. It's just that you are being taught the skills necessary for you to become more aware of your surroundings. Now because everyone learns at a different speed, the recordings have been done in such a way that there is a certain amount of repetition. I did this on purpose to remind people of all these different things. But not everyone needs that, and it sounds as though you may well be one of those people. So, if you are already confident in the technique, then simply stick to driving down the road and don't worry too much about me chipping in with reminders every now and then.

But this brings up another point too. Awareness is awareness. We can only place our attention on one thing at one time, so we don't need to worry about focusing on everything at once. In fact if it feels like this is happening, then it's more likely to be thinking that is taking place rather than bare awareness itself.

It sounds as though there is a lot of thinking going on. Thinking about thinking:)! Remember, all you need to do is place your attention on your breath. When the mind wanders, and you realise it's wandered, then gently bring the attention back, having acknowledged what took your attention away.

This doesn't mean labelling everything! In fact I remember mentioning several times in the recording, please don't try and label everything - it will drive you mad! We are simply looking to build up a general picture of the landscape...what are the usual tendencies, what are the patterns of thought, of feeling, of reaction? This is very much big picture stuff, so it is not necessary to focus on every little thing.

Of course, as you sit and watch the breath you will notice many thoughts and feelings come and go - this is what it means to be aware - but you do not have to label them, note them, explain them, or think about them. It is ONLY when you have been so distracted that you were no longer conscious of the present moment or a chain of thought or feeling, that you need to apply this technique.

And remember, if at any time it all feels like too much, it probably is. Just let it all go, come back to the breath, and just focus on that in a way which feels comfortable. Too much effort can manifest in many different ways, and you will find that by just sitting back a bit more, allowing thing to happen rather than feeling as though you need to 'do' something, will make the whole experience far more comfortable.

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