I have been doing a lot of non-meditation and non-blogging lately, but not the good kind. Settling into our new place is taking longer than I thought. I hoped I would have more time after we moved, but a few things needed to be fixed right away. Generally that is going well, but everything is taking more time than I originally thought. I still practice and reflect on the teachings every day, but it has been difficult to carve out some extra time to do more sitting practice and keep up with my blog.
Since I am trying to learn non-meditation, one could easily think that one doesn’t need to practice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this. If we don’t practice and don’t meditate there is no possibility for any result. Even if you practice but try to do meditation, it is difficult to progress. The right way is to practice yet try not to meditate.
The main point is that we need to practice. There is no way around it! That’s why I am trying to get back on track now that things are easing up a little. My goal is practicing more but learning not “doing anything” in my meditation.
I feel I need to still get my head around understanding the idea of “non-meditation” better. That’s why, when I do sitting practice, I try to pay special attention to my attitude and tune into the spirit of “non-doing”.
I am someone who likes to be productive, and to always do things. So when I sit down my habits continue in my practice in the form of trying to do something. I begin by looking for calm and peace. Then when I get some, I try to hold onto it and not let it slip away. Even when I remind myself that it is really about “non-mediation”, my mind finds a way to turn this into doing something. “Ok, let’s do non-meditation then”, it says. It is a subtle difference, but when you try to do “non-meditation”, you are still creating and fabricating.
I try to remember the image from chapter 5 of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying of the old man sitting in his favorite armchair after a long days work. He has done everything and can just relax without feeling that there is anything left to do. I like this image a lot. At times my mind argues: “It’s still morning. You haven’t done a hard day’s work. How can there be nothing left to do?”
When this happens, I consciously give myself permission to think: “There is nothing to do”. What a great and revolutionary thought! I also try to remember the meditation instructions. As Mingyur Rinpoche says, “All you have to do is rest your mind in natural openness. No special focus, no special effort is required.”
And, in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche writes that “To meditate is to make a complete break with how we “normally” operate,” and advises: “Above all, be at ease; be as natural and spacious as possible. Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping and relax into your true nature.”
In The Joy of Living, Mingyur Rinpoche even says that “experiencing natural peace is easier than drinking water”! I think he is saying that because meditation is simply about a natural way of being. Our problem is that we can’t leave our mind in its natural way. That’s why we need to make an effort initially so we can get used to this new way of being. But the emphasis is on not creating and fabricating a state of mind but rather on letting go and releasing what obscures our true nature.
I keep trying. Or should I say “not trying”?