Train spotting

Were you able to try the exercise in non-meditation suggested in the last post?  How was it for you?  Guess what—that is meditation!

If you happened to miss the exercise entirely, but are wondering what all this “non meditation” stuff is about, just go back and read the previous post.  Then give the exercise a try for yourself.

Here is what Mingyur Rinpoche tells us about the “big secret” of what meditation really is:

“So let me confide in you a big secret. Whatever you experience when you simply rest your attention on whatever is going on in your mind at any given moment is meditation. Simply resting in this way is the experience of natural mind.

The only difference between meditation and the ordinary, everyday process of thinking, feeling and sensations is the application of the simple, bare awareness that occurs when you allow your mind to rest simply as it is—without chasing after thoughts or becoming distracted by feelings and sensations.”

The practice of meditation may be far easier than you ever imagined, but due to its very simplicity it may elude you.  You might be looking for a big bang, a phenomenal experience, or a state of bliss or peace, but true meditation is not any particular state of mind.  It’s not a static destination or a goal, but rather simply resting in pure awareness.

Mingyur Rinpoche goes on to say:

“Like most people, I brought so much judgment to my experience. I believed that thoughts of anger, anxiety, fear, and so on that came and went throughout the day were bad or counterproductive—or at the very least inconsistent with natural peace! The teaching of the Buddha—and the lesson inherent in this exercise in non-meditation—is that if we allow ourselves to relax and take a mental step back, we can begin to recognize that all these different thoughts are simply coming and going within the context of unlimited mind, which, like space, remains fundamentally unperturbed by whatever occurs within it.”

In meditation, you are alert not asleep, you are cognizant of what passes through your mind, but you allow the thoughts and emotions to pass through without grasping onto or following after them.   At the same time, you recognize the true nature of mind, which is like space, is not affected by them at all.  You don’t suppress thoughts and emotions, nor do you indulge in them.  One analogy Mingyur Rinpoche sometimes uses is the example of trains passing by in a train station.  Trains come and go, they stop for a moment, and move on, but they don’t fundamentally alter the nature of space around them.

Due to the sheer simplicity of it, simply resting the mind may be easily misunderstand or confused with the ordinary, thinking mind. Indeed, Mingyur Rinpoche is speaking here of the highest form of meditation.  Therefore, I highly recommend that you read Mingyur Rinpoche’s book, The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness.  There you can read much more about natural mind and benefit from his step-by-step instructions on how to mediate as well as his explanation of different methods of meditation.

With his understanding of and appreciation for modern science, Mingyur Rinpoche’s writing offers a unique perspective on the interconnections between science and Buddhism as well as clarity on where the two diverge.  Mingyur Rinpoche was a research participant in the studies done by neuroscientists at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imagining and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin on the effects of meditation on the brains of long-term meditators.  Their research indicates that regular training in meditation can enhance activity in the areas of the brain associated with happiness and compassion.

Source:  The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness (p. 56- 57)

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