And now it’s like this

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?

4 Comments

Filed under Mindfulness, Patience

4 responses to “And now it’s like this

  1. RebeccaAnn

    I appreciate this blog entry a lot. I have just begun my meditation journey and I found this reading to be very helpful, especially pertaining to accepting distractions when meditating.

    Thank you for your peaceful encouraging words 🙂

  2. This sort of technique has become particularly relevant to me as I deal with back pain during sitting. I like the “Oh – and now it’s like this” approach

  3. Having practiced under Ajahn Sumedho for some time, and now under the guidance of Ajahn Geoff, I understand what you mean Ms. Kelly, as I so much enjoyed the perceptions I learned from Ajahn Sumedho.

    Having said, that I found that Ajahn Geoff’s approach, which is derived from Ajahn Lee’s method, as well as what Buddha taught in the Anapanasati Sutta, is quite complete.

    Together, a passive and active (Ajahn Sumedho, and Ajahn Geoff respectively) approach have provided me with a more complete understanding as to how my unskillful fabrications cause me to suffer… and at more and more subtle levels of understanding.

    In fact, the more I practice, the more I appreciate using both active and passive practices interchangeably. I do think however, if one was to take some of Ajahn Sumedho’s quotes, without some level of discernment, and go too far in one direction… it might possibly leave one thinking they are seeing clearer than they actually are.

    Perhaps, ultimately, they are both saying the same thing though.

    Thank you for your teaching. I read your newsletter with great joy and admiration each week.

    • Dear Buddy,
      Yes, thank you. Certainly for the serious practitioner, a mix of active and passive approaches is most suitable. I am starting with the assumption that many subscribers to this blog have minimal or no meditation experience, and when starting, the tendency is to over-exert. I may be wrong about this, and if so, I apologize.

      Meanwhile, your comment is entirely appropriate and most appreciated.
      Metta,
      Lynn

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