In my own meditation practice, some of Ajahn Sumedho’s teachings are starting to sink in. I’ve found that whatever is going on while I’m sitting, I am often able to see the event, my reaction to it, and come to an understanding that “this is how it is now”. So when I’m sitting on my cushion and a loud noise suddenly erupts outside, my body reacts, stiffening, something in the mind says “ouch”, and then I remember: “Oh – and now it’s like this”, and it’s not a problem. The awareness softens and takes in sounds and sensations that are gross and subtle, reactive feelings of liking and not liking, low and high energy levels, and in a way, they are all the same, because they are “just like this”.
This sort of flexibility is the opposite of trying to make something specific happen. The thought “I want to experience samadhi (deep peace)”, or “I want to stop being angry” will almost never produce the desired result. We can recognize this kind of wishing in our meditation practice and elsewhere.
An indirect method works better. Relaxed attention, accepting things just as they are – if we can take this attitude then our “problems” will melt away, or at least become less onerous. From this perspective, we may more easily notice pleasant mental states. Often we miss the calm states because our attention is drawn to bright, shiny things or things that irritate us.
How is it right now? How is the body disposed? Is there tension or ease? What is the attitude in the mind? Is there struggle or acceptance?