THINKING IN MEDITATION
Our mantra is itself a thought – that’s why we say our technique of meditation is a mental one. It starts with thinking – thinking a particular sound, as faintly and as effortlessly as we can, like a subtle pulsation. Nonetheless, that is thinking.
What causes us to release stress is the use of that thought. The mantra brings our awareness into a state of lesser mental excitation – a more subtle strata of thinking – which in turn causes our body to de-excite. When we rest the body, it becomes opportunistic to release stress. What we’re doing is triggering a known mechanic of the human physiology. That is – rest the body and the body will unwind stress.
Our mantra is the anchor, a thought which pulls our awareness inward. It’s primary property is to move downward and inward. That is why we seem to forget our mantra so easily and so often within our practice. All we need to do is think our mantra effortlessly and it spontaneously becomes more subtle. Then, our mind follows it to the subtler strata of thinking. It’s all very mechanical.
When the mind gets subtle enough – which could happen in 2 or 3 repetitions of the mantra, or 50 – it enters a bliss state, a silent inner-contentedness. And the body, which is always obedient to the mind, wants to print out that bliss state.
But, over time, the body has built up a history. In the past we were angry, sad, anxious, bored, frightened, etc. and the body printed all that out obediently too. So in order to print out bliss, the body needs to get rid of that irrelevant history. Those are the old stresses we’ve been holding onto.
In our meditation, there comes a point where the body can’t print out the bliss state of the mind without demolition, restructuring, renovation, restoration and re-engineering, and the body gets active doing that. This is the process of purification that we call unstressing. Unstressing is good, but it is an active process.
The activity of the body causes the mind to get pulled out of that silent bliss state. As an artifact of stress release, the mind can get clouded in mental activity, and we have thoughts, or emotions, or visual experiences – all different flavors of thinking.
So, we start with thinking the mantra (our preferred thought) and end with thinking myriad other thoughts, which we can sometimes find frustrating. That frustration comes from feeling that we “shouldn’t be thinking” in meditation.
It’s OK. Actually, when we find ourselves thinking thoughts other than our mantra, we’re practicing correctly, as long as we intend to return to our mantra when we realize we’re off of it.
We simply need to get ourselves into a mentality of all this being acceptable.
Written by Christian Bevacqua, Owner and Teacher of Green Tree Meditation
For more information, please visit: www.greentreemeditation.org