I listened to an interview with a best-selling author and meditation teacher this morning and was surprised when more than once she talked about how boring meditation is. She even said that’s why you need a sangha (community) to support your practice because otherwise you’d give up it’s so boring.
I don’t find it that way. I am just up from a “sit,” and what I noticed is an “Ahhh.” As if my inner being is being fed. I may not feel that the moment I close my eyes, but I seem to be able to drop into it. And so can you with time and patience.
I do not do the traditional focusing on the breath, and I’m not especially into watching my thoughts. I do notice my mind-stream much of my day, which comes naturally with a lot of inner work.
Rather than try to quiet the mind through concentration, I shift out of the thought-based mind. I change channels. There are several options, but my favorite seems to be moving to the subtle energy channel. I feel for the edge of opening. What is it like to feel open, boundless space? What can I feel in the field around me? What is happening in my chakras?
If you try to be too controlling, it keeps you more contracted. Then you are stuck in the same small mind you are usually in, and that is boring!
To step out of this mind, you need to at least soften control, making it more like a subtle intention. It may be the intention to come back to a sacred word or to body sensation or the intention to surrender.
I prefer the word “contemplation” (rather than meditation) because of its association with being absorbed in something greater. That’s the Ahhh. Ahhh, for this moment I can stop the endless activity of steering, deciding, conforming to a structure, rebelling, all that activity that makes up a (small) self. I can rest in a larger Silence. Or Presence. Or however you experience it.
I had a thought float through during one of my sits recently: “It’s not my project.” Meditation is not my project. Steering my development is not my project. It’s Being’s project. God’s project. I just show up for it.
Now I don’t win any endurance prizes for sitting through things like physical pain or number of hours on the meditation cushion. But I do “sit” daily with rare exceptions. Sometimes first thing, sometimes last thing, or any other part of the day, or multiple times a day. It doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m not the type that matters to. Nor would I set a timer.
So rules, structures, teachers, work best for some people, and feeling for a natural flow and following interior guidance works best for others. I’m off the second camp obviously. I wrote The Tao of Contemplation 19 years ago to give more permission to find your own natural way into the silence, into Ahhh.
Often when I speak about meditation I feel like I am being a little sacrilegious. There is such a huge (institutional almost) energy around how to meditate, and here I am saying you don’t have to follow that.
I worry that if people are just watching their boring minds they are not getting the most out of it, but may do so because they think this is just the way it is. I’ve heard some very high teachers note they see people who have meditated for decades and not changed much. It doesn’t have to be this way.
So I want to encourage people to try different things. Oldest is not necessarily best. New methods are also worth considering. Sounds True Weekly Wisdom is one place to hear about old and new. (I liked Loch Kelly’s interview a few weeks ago.)
For me, it’s not about discipline. When I sit down and close my eyes it is more a settling and an offering. It’s like feeding myself to Being. And that comes from love. It’s a gift to me as well. No, not boring at all.
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If you like, share what works for you. I am going to simplify my life and say thanks in advance for your comments and limit my replies.