Mind-Play : Meditation in practice

No special posture or equipment is needed, just an ordinary chair or cushion that allows the body to sit easily upright and alert, comfortable but not encouraging sleep. The spine stretches up from the base right through to the top of the head even to a sensation of reaching above it.

An alternative to sitting for long periods is to stand up against a wall, not leaning against it but just touching all along the back of the body from the heels to the head. This provides both a guide to perfect posture and a means of feedback from the body,  in particular barely discernible micro-movements of the head that can be quite intense to discover. One can alternate sitting and standing in this way to break up any feelings of monotony.

Away from our homes forests and other sacred spaces are natural places to sit still and listen for a while, particularly in the morning before eating. Thirty minutes to an hour can easily pass in the quiet observation of both mind and nature. Space, clear light and silence are the holy trinity of this natural practice.

The eyes have it. The classic mindfulness practice is to focus on breathing as the link that bridges mind to body but attention to the movement of the eyes can also open the portal to thinking. Crowded thoughts, quick eyes and shallow breaths are habitually cued up to follow in a cascade one from the other. So look to the eyes as they look out.

Foster and practice curiosity to counter any unease that may be felt. Drill down each day to reach bedrock. At times, particularly under stress, distraction will expand and our monitoring will be correspondingly loose. Persist.

Awareness floods the body, filling up every cell and every moment, squeezing out our usual obliviousness. There is a fluid sensing, the delight of pure streaming existence. The elation of bare being bubbles up through the here and now to crowd out the sad spaces of habitual thought. The mind is quiet even as it’s at the peak of stimulation. Pure presence is molded to the shape of the here and now.

It will be tempting to chase and catch the butterflies flitting around your mind but refrain and just watch as they come to land.

It can be startling to realize how impersonal and detached our thoughts are; we don’t own them any more than the air we breathe.

Unbidden and seemingly at random memories will push up into the flow of thoughts like sunken logs released from a riverbed. 

Awareness is the only delight that will not later turn to ashes in our mouths. The body is turned from a sensation seeking machine to an awareness seeking one.

Mindfulness is the most graceful way to travel forward through time.

Meditation is concentrated aloneness.

Avoid the lure of competition and comparison. Meditation is not just another form of separation, another way to get ahead of others. That would be no change at all. To raise the light in oneself is to raise it for humanity.

Insight can be transformative. It’s like living in a house all your life and then discovering a secret room that was there all along.

Make it a priority to have space and time to sit quietly in the shadows and come to the light by sipping a tall cool glass of silence. This priority is easier when we realize that there is literally nothing else to search for, a realization that can be put off by many decades of fruitless searching elsewhere. 

Human understanding is a process of successively closer approximations to the truth and meditation converges to it faster than anything else, perhaps that’s even its chief characteristic. To fully hold the living truth still in our hands is an illusion, in fact an impossibility but meditation will bring us as close to it as we’ll ever be. What can have greater meaning than that?

Understanding as art and science