In meditation practice, as in the rest of our lives, certain conditions arise in our ordinary everyday consciousness that constrain our open spirit. Many of these such as the emotions of anger, resentment and sorrow are easy to see. There are however, certain conditions that arise in meditation that are only obvious when we realise that they exist in us. The following are some of these.
This is the taking on of a special attitude to practice. Perhaps it’s an attitude we have towards an imagined spirituality. It might be a kind of resignation that we are going to do the 21 days practice or whatever it is, because we said we would. It could be a kind of ‘girding your loins’ or getting yourself settled and in the ‘right’ mood before practice.It may be a formal determination and concentration. Don’t confuse formal practice with a formal mind. Let go of the tensions. The Taoist poet Chuang Tzu said ‘Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy. Continue easy and you are right.’ Let the posturing of your mind go, and be natural and unaffected in your practice.
Transitioning to and from Sitting
Transitioning is what happens when we actually go to sit and we change our ordinary mind to do this. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with our ordinary everyday mind. When we practice, all we have to do is just sit and observe this ordinary mind. If we are changing ourselves to begin the practice, then we are unconsciously posturing in that transition. Transitioning also often occurs when we are getting up from practice. We change our mind into something and go about our daily business. This frequently happens when we think that sitting is a special state of being. It’s not – it’s just sitting and observing the everyday mind.
Looking for mind is not Mindfulness
Awareness of mind is not looking for mind. Looking for what is happening in mind is itself, a state of mind. This is not mindfulness practice. If we are looking and we notice the immediate phenomenon of looking, this is mindfulness.Mindfulness or beholding the mind has nothing at all to do with looking at thoughts that have just occurred. This is just looking at the past mind. Just notice the immediate mind.
The Soto Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki said something along the lines of, ‘If someone taps you on the shoulder during meditation, asks for your postcode and you can’t remember it immediately, then you are drifting rather than meditating.’ Just because we’re happy to get up every morning and sit for a while doesn’t mean we are in meditation. If we don’t stay present then we would be better served actually sleeping lying down, rather than trying to do it sitting up.
Not Having a Real Interest
To actually experience change from meditation practice, a natural open curiosity about the nature of our consciousness is the key. This is distinctly different from learning to meditate because it will calm our minds or fulfill one or other of our list of ambitions. Open curiosity is not a search for answers – it is the seed of wonder, the doorway of the open spirit.
When we have great insights during our meditation practice – it only tells us one thing. That we have left the present moment for our mind stream and become attached to some thought or other that we think is clever. Real insight is non-verbal.Focusing instead of Noticing. Focusing is a form of tunnel vision. Although it seems to be helpful at first because it allows us to concentrate – is this what we want to learn? Meditation is actually not an exercise in developing tunnel vision. It’s about opening up our awareness rather than closing it down. Noticing is without effort – a bit like looking at something without excluding your peripheral vision.
Constantly Analyse instead of Realise
If we constantly comment on our practice in our heads, we end up analyzing instead of realizing. Stay with the simplicity of the practice. Lao Tzu said; ‘Use the light, but give up the discernment. Bring not misfortune upon yourself.’
Rushing and Dawdling
When we’re in a hurry to ‘get somewhere’ in our meditation it leads us into either delusion or frustration. Delusion if we are good at faking it and frustration if we’re not. The opposite pole of this is dawdling – just because we’re slow doesn’t mean we have any real connection to the open spirit. Both of these are just examples of living in the time sense. As the Orphic mysteries tell us; the first stage of initiation is to pass beyond the time sense.
Loving the Philosophy instead of seeing it as a Guide to Practice
On the back cover of Penguin Classics Tao te Ching, it reads; … ‘this famous Chinese book can be enjoyed especially for its pure poetry.’It’s relatively easy if you have a certain kind of mind, to mistake the cake for its reflection in the glass. Philosophy is a kind of entertainment for educated cultures and it has nothing at all to do with any meditation practices. Abandon it before you start arguing about this.
Trying Too Hard
In Ejo’s classic The Treasury of Light, he explains that three things are needed for enlightenment – will, compassion and skillful means. Will means that we will practice – not that we try hard in practice. Meditation is about letting go of the ordinary mind – you don’t have to try hard to let go of something – you just release your grasp and let the attachments to everything go. When we try too hard it’s a bit like trying to frown or force our way to openness. It won’t happen – just chill out and relax.
One side of this encompasses believing that we’re special – a great spiritual person or a great meditator and the flip side is believing that we’re special in that we’re not good enough or capable enough to meditate. Let go of both of these – we don’t need either. Meditation is a very natural mundane practice and it’s not possible to have any understanding of it at all when we’re special.
Being Serious or Flippant
Neither seriousness nor flippancy will help us in sitting on our backsides and slowly becoming aware of the open spirit. Seriousness when we’re meditating will make us think highly of ourselves and flippancy will make us begin to wonder what we are doing. When we are just content with how we are there is no transition from one attitude to another. We just close our eyes and feel our breath.
When we think that something outside of us can help us to be open, we are engaging in magical thinking. This is whether or not this is a guru or a god or a channel or whatever else. One of the great and relatively unknown sayings of the Buddha was, ‘Everything that you achieve you do by yourself.’
By Kevin Niv Farrow
Kevin is the Founder and Director of AcuEnergetics® as well as a Master AcuEnergetics® Practitioner and Teacher of AcuEnergetics®. Kevin has practised and studied meditation and the energetic system since 1974. He has taught since 2000 and his published writings, meditation CD’s and teachings have brought him worldwide recognition as a unique and practical meditation teacher and an expert in the field of energy medicine. He currently teaches in Australia, USA, India, Asia and Europe. For more information about Kevin, visit Kevin’s full biography.