Why some form of activity, done with awareness, can be helpful before practising a passive form of meditation; watching passing emotions, and being total.
If you choose a very passive method for your practice – such as watching your breath, or of observing the gap between breaths – you may find that your body is restless and your mind noisier than ever. You may end up feeling not only not full of Buddha-like bliss but also frustrated and demoralized. You may well conclude that ‘meditation is not for me.’
Passive methods were created over 2500 years ago, when people were much more active in their everyday lives than we are. In addition, their lives were simpler and they were not being bombarded with the sensory input that we know today. Thus, for those people of so many years ago, it was much easier to sit and be still and silent at will. However, for the majority of us contemporary people that simple act presents difficulties.
Rather than trying to make the mind be silent and forcing your body to be still, before you do any passive technique, engage in some physical activity that allows you to release any mental or physical restlessness. As noted in Choosing a Meditation Method any activity becomes meditative when we add certain qualities to it.
So for instance, you could go for a run before you sit; or, put on some music and dance for 5-10 minutes, then sit. Or do the method called Gibberish, speaking nonsense sounds, which is mentioned in The Role of the Mind.
To read more about active forms of meditation visit www.activemeditation.com and www.osho.com.
Boredom and Bliss
After the novelty of getting your meditation practice underway, you might have times of boredom. Like a child, the mind is always curious to explore the new; it also likes to be engaged in problem-making, as we saw in Thinking, Mindfulness & Consciousness. It simply has no role to play when you are meditating, and will become bored. Understand that that is the nature of the mind, and continue undeterred with your meditation.
We’d all like to be able to be detached from our pain, the dry times and the sad times. But who wants to be detached from the good times and the lovely experiences? When you emerge from your meditation feeling high, it’s tempting to want it again, even to pump up your ego with it.
Remember, all experiences are of the mind – and we are moving in a domain beyond the mind.
Learning to disidentify from thoughts, feelings and physical sensations has to start with the ‘positive’ – that is to say, the pleasurable ones.
The old habits of the mind will make themselves felt when you are meditating. For example you might start competing with yourself – seeing how long you can sit in meditation, if you can better your time of yesterday, urging yourself to go beyond your limits even if your body is in pain. (Of course the mind can also try and sabotage your intention to meditate by telling you that you have reached your limit before you’ve barely begun!)
…Yet Going For It
If there is one key word to guarantee success in your meditative practice it’s ‘totality.’ You may not do the methods perfectly, but what’s more significant is to practise them with all you have got. How long you meditate is not as significant as your degree of participation.
So, for example, when you are dancing in meditation, really dance – rather than just going through the movements automatically, with your mind engaged in something completely different, such as what you are going to do when you are done. If it’s going to have a transformative effect on you, each method requires you to be present, on every level of your being, and whole-hearted in your involvement.
Follow the instructions of the method given! They are like a medical prescription: you don’t improvise! Having said that, gauge for yourself – by tuning into your body and staying in contact with yourself – how much to exert yourself. There is a difference between totality and over-zealousness to the point where you might cause yourself physical harm.
By and by your level of awareness and sensitivity will be heightened, and will act as a reliable barometer. At the same time the habit of your interfering mind will begin to loosen its hold on you.