Monday, October 27, 2008

Meditating Effortlessly

Frances Goldenpeople


Thinking stirs the mind so a meditator watches. There is no personally relating to any thought. Instead thoughts are simply allowed to drift by like leaves riding a stream.

These days I am finding my thoughts are less forceful and captivating than they used to be. I think the change is happening because, while I am aware of the thoughts, I am a disinterested observer. I simply let them come and go.

Starting a long sit with a good hot shower helps me because my muscles tend to loosen. I can feel my body become less tense. A good period of stretching can work wonders as well. What I then find helpful to super-relax is silently repeating the Karaniya Metta Sutra over and over to myself.

I once recorded myself and was amazed how much I calmed down over a one hour period. My voice went from tired, irritated, distracted, and low energy to firm, calm, gentle, and very present. The pace of my speech slowed to about half its initial pace. I did not make any intention to change my body or voice in this fashion. I simply repeated the sutra over and over and allowed the change to unfold. I was not even aware of what was happening until I played the tape back. I did so at a later date and was surprised to witness firsthand the calming impact of this gentle sutra.

We can not make progress on the Path until we let loose, clear out our expectations, and allow things to simply unfold. When I take my "hands off the controls" and am patient, things start to cook. It is truly like getting on a roller coaster at the station. All of a sudden, all on its own, the ride starts moving. Slowly at first and with time the pace increases.

Neither happy about this, nor sad about this, one just sits back and rides.

If one is calming down and finds oneself interfering and making effort, become stone still the moment this pattern is recognized. In a kind and firm voice, repeat three times: "This effort is not helpful. Please stop." Then gently come back to the breath. This is done as often as needed to enable the relaxing process to continue.

Karaniya Metta Sutra
What should be done by one skillful in good
So as to gain the State of Peace is this:
Let one be able, and upright, and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and humble,

Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
One's faculties prudent, serene, and modest,
Unswayed by the fawning of families;

Let one never do the slightest thing
That the wise might hold blameworthy.
[Instead cultivating the thought:]
"Safe and well, may all beings be happy!

Whatever breathing beings there be,
Without exception, whether frail or firm,
Be they long, huge, or midsized,
Or short, tiny, or bulky

Whether seen or unseen,
Dwelling far or near,
Born or yet seeking birth,
May all beings be happy!

Let no one work another's undoing
Or even slight one in speech at all:
Never wishing another harm
Out of hate or resentful thought."

Just as a mother might with her own life
Protect her son, her only child,
So let one then for every living being
Maintain kind all-embracing thoughts;

With love for all the world
Maintain unbounded thoughts in being
Above, below, around, and in between,
Untroubled, without foe or enmity.

As one stands, walks, or sits,
Or while lying down awake,
Let one resolve mindfully:
This is Divine Abiding here, they say.

No more consorting with views,
But with virtue and vision of the ultimate,
Having overcome all sensual desire,
One returns no more to this world to be born.

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