Silent sitting meditative practice is sometimes really tricky but always worthwhile.
There I am, edgy and alert. My work has required me to flash in and out of many different social roles (one of the joys of working in direct contact with ‘the public’) even more than usual over then last few days. My brain is buzzing with plans and ideas (there’s so much I want and need to write! About my journey to Nepal, work to extend the ideas in The Book of Baphomet, essays I’ve promised, poetry). Then there is my rising excitement about going to the USA for The Mother of All Chaos Magick Gatherings (I mean, man, it’s fucking America!). Then there is all that tea I’ve drunk…
So I sit and watch as my mind races, falling over its self, looping back, crystallising ideas (which beg to be written down before they slip from memory and are dragged down by the undertow of the unconscious). The body posture isn’t a problem. Long hours of trance work, of yoga and meditation mean that sitting still is relatively easy. Yet there is a desire to move, to get up, to do stuff. Perhaps, I wonder, I’m doing the wrong practice? I mean let’s not get too Protestant about meditation, maybe I should really be up doing some kind of active seething shaking trance thingy? Maybe I should go for a walk? Maybe I should get out the kettle bell, put on Two Steps from Hell, and try working out…
But I sit still. I remind myself that ‘it’s all good’ and that all I need to do is to be compassionate with myself. I let the thoughts arise, come back to the breath, but they are arising, and arising, and arising – Jesus I’m not really managing to do this…
And so I remember, be kind, that’s okay. Thoughts arising are just what a mind does.
So I deploy a technique. I start waiting for the thoughts to arise. I’m looking for a creature which I know, hidden though it is right now in the thicket of attention, will eventually have to make a break for it. Waiting for the next idea as the hunter waits for the deer.
I wait, listening to my breath, and watching.
Slowly my frenetic brain calms down and I get to the point where the attention to the moment of breathing is deepening, increasing in duration. Then I realise that my watchful technique is itself a loop, a stance towards awareness rather than the ground of awareness itself. So I let that go too, but it’s done its work.
Now the thoughts as they arise are gently rotating prayer wheels, rather than thousands of honking stock cars. I remember the curiosity of this practice, that even if I wait I can do so gently with a ‘I wonder what I’ll think next?’ stance rather than the sniper’s fixed attention. For me this is the essence of mindfulness meditation. Rather than using a method (however apparently passive) to block out thoughts, we let them come. We are sitting with our normal mental state. But of course I also know that simply sitting in this way is changing my neural wiring and, with luck, giving me special powers an’ shit.
And I smile, and gently, compassionately return to the breath.
And as I sit and write this I feel good. Having taken time out to find a still point in the hurly burly of my life, and smile to myself that the idea for this article came to me while meditating.