Over the last few days I have been trying out Mingyur Rinpoche’s exercise in non-meditation. I have enjoyed to try to “not meditate”, and to just be aware of whatever happens without interfering in any way. In my last post I promised I would let you in on the secret on what the difference between this exercise and meditation is. So here it is. In The Joy of Living Mingyur Rinpoche writes:
“So let me confide in you a big secret. Whatever you experience when you simply rest your attention on whatever is going on in your mind at any given moment is meditation. Simply resting in this way is the experience of natural mind.
The only difference between meditation and the ordinary, everyday process of thinking, feeling and sensations is the application of the simple, bare awareness that occurs when you allow your mind to rest simply as it is—without chasing after thoughts or becoming distracted by feelings and sensations.
It took me a long time to recognize how easy meditation really is, mainly because it seemed so completely ordinary, so close to my everyday habits of perception, that I rarely stopped to acknowledge it. Like many of the people I now meet on teaching tours, I thought that natural mind had to be something else, something different from, or better than, what I was already experiencing.
Like most people, I brought so much judgment to my experience. I believed that thoughts of anger, anxiety, fear, and so on that came and went throughout the day were bad or counterproductive—or at the very least inconsistent with natural peace! The teaching of the Buddha—and the lesson inherent in this exercise in non-meditation—is that if we allow ourselves to relax and take a mental step back, we can begin to recognize that all these different thoughts are simply coming and going within the context of unlimited mind, which, like space, remains fundamentally unperturbed by whatever occurs within it.
In fact, experiencing natural peace is easier than drinking water. In order to drink, you have to expend effort. You have to reach for the glass, bring it to your lips, tip the glass so the water pours into your mouth, swallow the water, and then put the glass down. No such effort is required to experience natural peace. All you have to do is rest your mind in natural openness. No special focus, no special effort is required.
And if for some reason you cannot rest your mind, you can simply observe whatever thoughts, feelings or sensations come up, hang out for a couple of seconds, and then disappear, and acknowledge, “Oh, that’s what’s going on in my mind right now.”
Wherever you are, whatever you do, it’s essential to acknowledge your experience as something ordinary, the natural expression of your true mind. If you don’t try to stop whatever is going on in your mind, but merely observe it, eventually you’ll begin to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, a vast sense of openness within your mind—which is in fact your natural mind, the naturally unperturbed background against which various thoughts come and go. (p. 56- 57)
This is an uplifting message of hope for a hopeless meditator like me!