“It is said that before entering the sea, a river trembles with fear. She looks back at the path she has traveled, from the peaks of the mountains, the long winding road crossing forests and villages. And in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast that to enter there seems nothing more than to disappear forever. But there is no other way. The river can not go back. Nobody can go back. To go back is impossible in existence. The river needs to take the risk of entering the ocean because only then will fear disappear, because that’s where the river will know it’s not about disappearing into the ocean but of becoming the ocean.” – Fear by Khalil Gibran
Last week, we talked about the possibility of living in both the world of illusion made by ego AND the true nature of reality: basic ground, spaciousness, consciousness, freedom, trust, curiosity, and magic.
One may be more comforting than the other. And it doesn’t matter, really, which is which. What is important is that we at least acknowledge to ourselves that both exist and that we have a choice. We always have choices.
Meditation can bring us comfort no matter what as we are simply practicing our skills at remaining open, calm, fresh, alert, and aware in the midst of distraction and chaos.
In meditation practice, what we are working on, working with, working at, is the mind. Mind is what we use, apply, and manipulate.
Mind and thoughts are inseparable, like a hand with its fingers. The conceptual mind perpetually thinks. Mind perpetuates thoughts around us and in us, such as love or hate.
The constant thinking of mind is what we have to work with. We’re stuck with it – like having chewing gum on the bottom of your slipper or shoe. Thinking, which is constantly in the forefront of our attention, is maddening. When we identify with thoughts, we give up all control and are jerked around either emotionally or in trying to attend to them all.
Mind causes us to be fascinated by the world, or, for that matter, turned off by the world. We are perpetually being turned off and turned on by this particular thing called mind. It makes us happy or sad, inspired, or uninspired. We feel compelled to act on thoughts incessantly – simply because they’re there.
As we’ve learned, thoughts are memories. We never have an original thought – original, being independent.
Don’t get me wrong, thinking has value – to the degree that we can remain true to our authentic selves: spacious, unattached, and connected to All That Is.
The way we can free ourselves from habitual attachment (or addiction) to our constant running thoughts and see clearly enough to choose which thoughts serve us is through meditation.
Why will meditation free us and how is it going to work? It works by picking up our end of the stick. Rather than by tackling mind as an enemy or a friend, you work gently in meditation to let go and tighten up.
You loosen or let go by means of identifying with the outbreath; you tighten up or concentrate using the body. This is called synchronizing body and mind.
Working with posture is the means to release the tension and frustration that exist in the mind. In meditation, we can check on our posture during the inbreath. Straightening your posture will satisfy it – it’s just like giving milk to a crying baby, or opening doors and windows in a stuffy room.
We identify with the outbreath: flowing out and dissolving into space. We check on our posture on the inbreath. By using those two techniques of loosening and tightening, you will be able to free the mind.
Understanding how you came to be practicing meditation and why is very important. You need to know why you are practicing or not practicing, what actually motivates you. The motivation arises because each time you practice, there is a sense of joy, and wellbeing. From that wellbeing, conviction or faith arises.
There are many levels of motivation and you’ll discover your own that keeps you coming back to practice.
The ultimate motivation might be to develop your meditation in order to learn how to work with other people.
This would be a good point to review two aspects of meditation which are said to help one’s practice: posture and technique. [For a review of posture and technique, join Kit any day Monday – Saturday at 7:30am HST for guided meditation.]
Excerpts were read from Nana Veary’s book, Change We Must.
Individual Liberation by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Change We Must by Nana Veary