This week, six of us continued the exploration of what deepening of meditation practice might mean.
Initial reactions to the topic were: ‘That’s too scary.’
‘I can find a place of ease and connection in my meditation, why would I want to go deeper?’
‘Good to do if could keep awake!’
After our usual check in and 30 minutes meditation practice, we started the discussion with one person’s comment: ‘My meditation is so shallow, I spend the time thinking about shopping or cooking, or my new vacuum cleaner!’ A response to this was: ‘well, any daily life awareness/mindfulness practice involves paying attention to ordinary tasks like cleaning and cooking. Is that shallow?’ So what is shallow and what is deep?
Further discussion ranged from how we can realise troubling thoughts are just thoughts happening in the present and not in the time of memory; how this is so hard to do as the thoughts are experienced along with body feelings, body memory which can even include experience of our parents or community; is heart and gut experience still controlled by Mind, or the other way round?. And then this exchange:
Participant No. 1: You can also be aware of being aware, isn’t that right?
Participant No. 2: I find that the minute I am aware that I am aware I lose it, it’s really frustrating.
Facilitator (with interest): What do mean you lose it? What does that feel like?
Participant No. 2: Well, I begin to think about it, and once I’m thinking about it I have lost it.
Facilitator (with even more interest): Ah, how interesting, once you think about being aware you lose that sense of being aware? Is that it?
Participant No. 2: Yes, and I then don’t know how to get it back again.
Participant No. 1: But isn’t the whole point of meditation to repeatedly ‘wake up’ to those times of losing it, so, when I know I have lost it, I am actually there! With IT!.. back in awareness?
Facilitator: Wow. Yes, there is actually no getting away from awareness, no matter how much we think we are not aware! But not to say we don’t experience it as loss as well.
Participant No. 2: It seems to goes into a place beyond language, we can’t really talk about it which is an uneasy and difficult place to be.
A couple of people shared how frightening it can be when we touch a place in meditation that goes beyond our conceptual certainties, and boundaries of self and other.
‘For me it’s less making the effort to deepen (like dig out), rather it’s more a letting go, letting meditation happen more freely, without effort and without thinking’.