Summertime, and the Sitting Is Easy…
If emptying your mind feels like work, try this.
Summer's End by Steven A. Simpson
Find a comfortable place to sit comfortably. Allow any thought, idea, and impression to arise. Do not pursue any particular thought, nor try to suppress any thought. Observe the moment the thought arises. See it arising. Let it be there as long as it wants to be there. Then witness it fade away. So you observe its arising, continuing, and falling away. Remember to just observe it, not getting involved and not reacting to it. It arises from the subconscious, and after having lived for a while, it disappears.
This is a basic yet very important practice, an important step on the spiritual path. You will learn you do not need to get rid of thoughts—they are going to disappear on their own. Watch the thoughts and the process of thinking, without being concerned about the content of thoughts. When we know that they will disappear on their own, why make an effort to remove them? Instead, make sure that you do not get involved in them. Do not react; just develop a poised awareness. Let your mind be like a mirror, which reflects the fire and ice without itself becoming warm or cold.
All your distractions are used as a means for meditation. Pain, anxiety, frustration, boredom, and the like are the objects of attention. This is the uniqueness of this meditation. It offers an opportunity for us to see that these thoughts are not permanent and use this observation to develop equanimity and detachment.
In this meditation we are inviting and letting thoughts arise one by one. When one thought fades away, we await the next. We look forward to the next. Thus the weakness of distraction is turned into a source of strength. You will realize that the mind is like a circle in which the same thoughts arise and fall again and again: the same anger, same fear, same greed, same desire, same lust, same guilt. Normally you would get involved with each arising thought. Due to that involvement and reaction, a whole chain of thoughts would start, one leading to another and then another, forming a feature-length movie or a theatrical drama. That is the real problem; you get possessed by the chain of thoughts. You get lost in them, you get overwhelmed by them, you identify with them. Your energy gets depleted and wisdom gets clouded by that involvement. But by watching all these thoughts with detachment, your system will get rid of them. Eventually this circle of thoughts will be broken and you will be librated.
This technique follows the strategy of “divide and conquer.” You divide your mind in two parts, one part thinking and the other watching. This way you become master of your mind. You may initially feel that your distracting thoughts are too powerful and you have no control over them. But as you start watching your thoughts without reacting or analyzing them, you will soon discover that these thoughts are just paper tigers with no actual strength.
You will also watch your emotions, which can be very strong and engulf the awareness, or can be suppressed and stored in the subconscious mind. Sometimes the meditator is surprised by the emotions hidden in the subconscious. You may feel disturbed by emotions coming up because you were expecting the mind to calm down. But it is good to know these emotions, observe them, and let them depart. They may be so powerful that they last for a long time. Just keep observing them and let them get exhausted. Otherwise they will come up at an unwanted time and create problems for you. So just sit down and watch and acknowledge whatever your mind offers to you.
You may also observe that an emotion is accompanied by a bodily sensation. Anger may be accompanied by hot, fast breathing or headache or heat in the chest. Notice what kind of bodily sensations are produced as a result of a particular emotion. You will get to know that subtle connection between your body and your mind. You will also note that negative emotions such as fear produce unpleasant bodily sensations, and positive emotions such as love produce pleasant sensations.
Nitin Jain has been teaching meditation in Mumbai, India, for 28 years.