Meditation can be one of our best tools for Awakening to non-dualism. The usual problem with meditation, however, is that it can very easily become a habitual attempt to calm the mind or achieve control. In short, it becomes a crutch that is based on our standard dualistic methods of making change – via effort.
Some meditation teachers will try to tell you that meditation can’t be done with a goal in mind, but then they proceed to guide you through precise methods of sitting, breathing, and visualizing. To our dualistic minds, any detailed recipe adds up to one thing – a precise goal. Why have precise methods if we’re not trying to achieve a precise goal?
The whole process becomes an endless circle of success and frustration, and we can spend years trying to figure out what the heck this mediation stuff is all about!
Let’s start off by getting rid of the word ‘meditation’. It has too many things attached to it. Let’s instead investigate ‘Just Being’. Just Being is easy, because all you have to do is be. Sit down wherever, or lie down if you think you won’t fall asleep (you can fall asleep if you want, but then you’ll have trouble noticing what’s going on). You can do it anywhere, really, but sitting down can be quite comfortable.
Now, just pay attention to what’s going on in your head. Yup, that’s it. Nothing else. That’s the whole secret.
What’s Going on in There?
You’ll notice two states that you’ll transition between. In the one state, you’ll be able to passively observe everything that’s going on in your mind. In the other state, you’ll suddenly notice that you’ve been spending time ‘swept away’ into the activities of your mind. Neither of these states is better or worse — just play with the transitions a little. There is no need to favor one over the other.
Merely pay attention to whatever you can. Since the time you spend ‘swept away’ will be pretty difficult to pay attention to, simply notice that you’re able to pay attention to two things – the times when you are ‘watching’, and the transition times between watching and being swept away.
The transitions are quite interesting. They have a particular feeling, and as you watch yourself transition more and more, you’ll be able to notice when you’re switching back and forth – even in your everyday life. It’s sort of like becoming aware of ants. If you start to study ants, you’ll suddenly notice that there are a lot more of them around. All over the place, in fact. Start studying the transitions, and you’ll notice the same thing. We transition quite often.
You’ll notice something else when you’re Just Being. You’ll notice that your mind can only think of one thing at a time. Let’s say you’re lounging in your lawn chair, Just Being. You’ll be watching your mind activity, remembering something or being swept away or observing an object or sensation. It soon becomes apparent that no matter what you’re doing in your mind, you can only do one thing at a time. This is important, because it counters one of our basic thoughts about our minds.
You see, we often think that our minds are thinking of thirty things at once. In reality, however, (as you’ll find Just Being), your mind is making swift transitions from one thought to another. It’s very quick. So quick that you don’t usually notice the difference between one thought and the next. Your thoughts move in a swift chain, linked by associations or outside stimuli. Most of the time, they’re pretty much on auto-pilot. (In reality, there is no transition between ‘thoughts’, due to the fact that any line we want to draw between one and the next is arbitrary. But since our thoughts are structured around our symbolic representations of the world, it makes much more sense to the dualistic mind to refer to ‘one thought after another’.)
Thinking About Thinking
As you notice the transitions between thoughts, you’ll notice that little moments of ‘swept away’ sneak into the times that you think you’re ‘watching’. For instance, you’ll come out of being ‘swept away’, and then you’ll think back to what happened when you were swept away. Involved in that memory, you’ll actually get swept away again – if only for a brief moment. Notice how much more often the transitions occur than you thought they did.
What’s happening here is that, if you are spending more and more time Just Being, you’ll also begin spending more and more time in the ‘watching’ state. This just happens. The secret is that awareness is actually our natural state of mind. This is what is meant by doing ‘nothing’ when you meditate. We’re simply allowing our natural state of mind to work. Usually, our natural state of mind is buried under mounds of thought. And thought takes effort. So what we actually need to do is to relinquish effort. Do nothing.
This ‘nothing’ is simply being open and receptive, without any effort at all. It takes no work – no effort – to hear or see or smell. Those things just happen, all by themselves. It requires no effort at all to perceive.
In short, to see the world, just as it is, is effortless. To put a word or a symbol onto everything we sense? That requires effort. Of course, we’re so used to that kind of effort that we actually believe it would be more difficult to do ‘nothing’. That’s why doing ‘nothing’ can be so difficult for us!
Watching will become easier and easier, until it’s your usual state of mind, both when Just Being and when you’re living your regular life. Indeed, the more you practice Just Being, especially if you do it at odd times, such as when you are washing dishes, going for a run, talking to friends, or even watching a movie, you’ll find that Just Being gets easy. Much easier than thinking and considering and running about in your mind all the time. You might find that most of your day and even most of your night is spent Just Being. In fact, pretty soon Just Being will become your ‘regular life’!
This is an easy place to stop, because it’s pretty peaceful. But the truth is that you’re still deep in dualistic thought patterns. There’s still something else to look at – something which is very easy for people to overlook.
When you’re watching your thoughts, emotions, or perceptions, who is doing the watching?
Don’t answer this question with words. Go find out for yourself. Next time you are Just Being (you might want to sit down for this one), when you find yourself ‘watching’, turn your attention on the ‘watcher’.
This can be tricky, because it’s easy for us to fabricate another ‘watcher’ to watch the first ‘watcher’, and we can play this game infinitely. Instead, notice the difference between ‘watching the watcher’, and, using what you’ve learned, utilizing your natural state of mind (or your ‘do nothing’ state of mind) to see what’s really there.
If you can ‘just see’ in regards to the watcher, you’ll discover something very interesting waiting there. Remember, the key is to use the effortless awareness you’ve developed. Try it yourself and see if you can incorporate meditation as a part of your daily routine.