Milieu notes on today’s meditation: Today has been smoother than day one. There is no urgency in my countenance today. The meditation on day one did wonders to lower my anxiety. I struggle with perpetual dissatisfaction, but today it’s not so bad. I am working a sixteen-hour shift today and will use my hour break to meditate.
I find a quiet room and sit in a meditative posture with my legs crossed, my hands folded in my lap, my spine erect and my eyes closed. I sit on three cushions. I set my timer for one hour and push start.
I immediately notice that I am resisting this project. I don’t fight the resistance; I simply observe it. Why am I resisting?, I ask. The answer creeps into my awareness: because I expect a lot from today’s meditation and I don’t want to be disappointed. I spend the next several minutes peeling off layers of expectation about what I will experience and letting them go.
I affirm to myself that today’s project is worthwhile. I affirm once, twice, three times. I realize quickly that I am falling into an ego trap: I am battling my negative mental voice with my positive mental voice. I can’t escape the mind by using the mind. Rather than cling to the good and avoid the bad I must leave good and bad behind. I must assume the perspective at the apex of the triangle that is neither bad nor good – only aware. I come to this place rather quickly.
I have broken off the first layer of noise and have settled into a deeper focus. I focus my attention more intently inward from the skin boundary. I feel commotion inside – a restless buzzing within my head, neck and chest. I turn my full attention toward it and stare directly at it. I hold it within my consciousness for several minutes. Soon wild and nonsensical images are bursting out of it and being thrust into my awareness: a shark biting the propeller of a boat, an airplane view of the coast of Florida, a young African-American couple dressed in formal wear at a high school dance, two men transporting a seal wearing a dog collar and a leash. I let these images spring into my awareness and fade out as if I am an observer watching a movie. As each one comes and goes, the buzzing weakens.
I try now to narrow my mind to a single object. I pick a simple shape: a white circle. I spend several minutes trying to hold this image perfectly in my mind without wavering. I have several successful moments. During the seconds in which my mind is fully taken with the image, I feel clearly my consciousness extends far beyond my mental faculty. As my conscious mind locks on to its object, the vast and superior remainder of my consciousness becomes aware that my mind is fully preoccupied. My mind is singularly occupied, and yet I am aware of this fact. My mental faculty is not my consciousness, it is within my consciousness. Fundamentally I am that greater field aware that a subsection, my waking mental consciousness, is fully consumed at the moment. What a trip.
At this point my inner resistance to the project resurfaces. Boredom and impatience arise within me. I decide to follow the advice that my mother used to give me when going to sleep: just lie there with your eyes closed. I remember a Zazen lesson about “just sitting.” Do nothing else; just sit.
I just sit for a while and a huge wall comes down. I have been doing way too much. Just sitting has revealed to me how much mind I was still using. I was trying to concentrate, trying not to concentrate, trying to have purpose, etc., etc. So much trying! Now I just sit. There is a perfectly still me underneath the me that is doing too way too much.
Bam. Waves of relaxation and silence. Pure Being here and now.
I have a moment of insight into what a master must feel when he tutors a student. I see the hilarity of the enlightened perspective: doing nothing should be the easiest thing a person can do! It’s non- action! This whole time I have been leaving this state in an effort to find it. I feel like laughing hysterically. All action returns to non-action. I am fully realized as inner silence.
I still remind myself to be here and now, which is a mental substitute for the experience of being here and now. All the commotion and buzzing within me isn’t me at all. I toy with the notion that all motion is temporary and all stillness is eternal. I let the vibration of my body and the room ring as loudly and clearly as it will. I observe it from the perspective of the stillness within it. The stillness is pure presence.
I listen now rather than observe the vibration. Listening is more multidirectional; I can give up my focal point if I listen. The more I listen, the more I feel that I am greater than the vibrations in my immediate presence. I am the space in which those vibrations occur. I let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be; singing words of wisdom, let it be. Acceptance is proving itself to be the most powerful part of the meditative process.
My time is up.