Many people get confused about what meditation is, so let’s take a closer look about the concept of meditation. The first misconception is that when you meditate you should not have any thoughts in your mind. But this of course is impossible, because if you have no thoughts you become like a zombie. You can ask yourself, “How do I get up from my sitting practice if I have no thought to get up?” You will always have thoughts in your mind, but through practicing meditation techniques you can learn how not to cling to them. The key word here is cling; it is so easy to get caught up in thought patterns. We follow our thoughts when we cling to the past, to the future, and even to the present moment. When we follow our thoughts, getting tangled up like cling wrap, we suffer from anger, fears, worries and all sorts of attachments.
When we feel thoughts coming up and we don’t cling to them, then we are free; the thoughts will dissolve back to the place they came from, leaving no trace of anger, fear, worry or other attachments. Zen Master Dogen described this with the metaphor of a bird flying in the sky that leaves no trace; similarly, our thoughts should leave no trace at all. So next time when you meditate and you experience thoughts coming up, don’t follow them, don’t cling to them; leave them alone and all by themselves they will dissipate. Now this of course is not that easy and therefore we work with meditation practices and techniques to support this. As you can see I call them meditation practices and techniques because this is where another misconception comes in, and that is that there is only one way to meditate: sitting down on a meditation pillow, as would a monk or a nun.
Meditation is in fact not a physical position, but rather a state of mind, free from dualistic thinking. It is a direct experience in the true nature of our ultimate reality. Thus meditation is life, and life is meditation. But of course to have this direct experience of being free from our dualistic thinking is once again not that easy, therefore we use more meditation practices and techniques. These meditation practices and techniques have many different forms. They can be performed when sitting, moving, and sitting and moving. At different times during your life you might need to work with different forms depending on how your practice is developing. If we only use a sitting meditation practice or technique we might find it very difficult to maintain the state of being free of dualistic thinking while we are walking. Therefore we need to use both so that we learn how to engage in the world while our mind rests in a non-dualistic state.
This means that with lots of practice and perseverance one can learn to live life in a state of mind of meditation, free from clinging, free form attachments, and free from dualistic thinking. Thus no matter if we walk, talk, brush our teeth, shit, laugh, sit or sleep, our mind is free, and this is the deepest form of meditation of all.
Author of The Inner Heart of Reiki – Rediscovering Your True Self, co-author of The Reiki Sourcebook, Your Reiki Treatment, and The Japanese Art of Reiki. Share this Post
Photos by Dean Moriarty. England
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