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by Adam Dacey
In the fourth week of the beginners’ mindful course that I teach there is a session called the mindful mind.
This class arrives once the practitioner has engaged in the introductory mindful listening, body and breathing practices.
This is the signature practice of the mindspace training, the effect of it, being that we experience an authentic and immediate mindspace.
I begin the class by telling a story from one of my teachers who spent ten years in solitary meditation retreat. Upon leaving retreat, having been requested by his teacher, to start sharing wisdom and compassion with the community. He concluded regarding training in the art of meditation – that there was one practice most effective and relevant for our busy minds in these distracted times – that brings relaxation, stress relief and insight.
The practice allows us to enter a relaxed balanced state, where we can gain a direct experience of mindfulness.
There are tens of thousands of different types of meditation, many being very effective to bring about peace, calm, clarity and awareness, however their effectiveness is dependent on how we approach them.
He explained that our approach to meditation can be slightly impatient. When we try to focus and concentrate, we almost apply too much effort. Our mind becomes too tight.
For example, when we practice breathing meditation, we are told to focus on the sensation of the breath. Of course, if we are aware of the breath in a relaxed manner then this will bring good results into our experience. The issue is being able to focus in a ‘relaxed manner.’ To just abide with the breathing.
Usually we are not relaxed when we sit down to practice, so our meditation can feel uncomfortable and slightly strained. We try hard to focus, almost too hard.
To help with this issue, he presented a meditation, which known as ‘just sitting’.
We simply abide in the present moment, with awareness. Not trying to focus or make anything happen, just sitting.
We watch our thoughts.
We observe what is happening around us…
We notice what is happening inside of us, but we are not distracted.
The analogy is used of a frog. Still and attentive, while at the same time being completely alert. It’s important to note this is an analogy, we don’t need to visualise a frog!
When we are practicing especially for beginners there is a tendency to assess one’s experience.
Many people often say to me, ‘oh I find meditating hard’, or ‘I am a very distracted person.’
This meditation known as ‘just sitting’ can address these thoughts.
We recognise that these are just conceptions arising in our mind.
We can choose to believe them or we can let them pass.
We are just sitting.
How can you be good or bad at just sitting?
So, when I introduce this practice on week-four of the beginners course, it creates a completely new relaxed atmosphere in the group.
Some practitioners feel a sense of liberation and freedom.
Within the Buddhist tradition, this meditation is sometimes introduced at the beginning of the practitioners training.
It’s also one of the most advanced practices, introduced within the Tantric tradition, presented later for practitioners on retreat, with a slightly different instruction.
Our mind has limitless potential, this practice helps us to explore this and start to gain experience of the peace, beneath the distractions.
Like diving into the ocean, instead of being tossed around by its waves.
The ‘just sitting’ meditation helps us to step back from the busyness.
We are able to take an objective view.
We are no longer fighting our mind, or trying to make an experience happen.
We are just being aware.
This mental skill cultivated in meditation, helps us to develop emotional intelligence, which not only aids us in our meditation, but also in our daily life, when we need to be able to step back from a difficult or challenging situation.
We have the mindspace to respond with wisdom, instead of reacting with our distracted emotions.
We abide in the present moment.
We sit and watch.
We try to sit still and just notice.
Not expecting anything.
Not making anything happening.
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Article written by Adam Dacey.
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