Transcribed and Edited from a Talk by Andrea Fella 08/31/10
Good morning. For the last few weeks I’ve been talking about various qualities that support meditation – they’re the qualities of meditation that come together to allow us to cultivate the skill of meditation. There are five qualities that are in this category: the five faculties, which is one of the lists the Buddha talked about. These five qualities are confidence, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.
These qualities can be looked at as qualities that support our meditation, but they’re also more generally qualities that support any skill that we want to develop – the wisdom aspect of these five faculties could be the wisdom or the knowledge or the understanding needed to learn to play the piano, for instance – or it can be the knowledge, the wisdom, that will support our movement to meditation.
Given an intellectual understanding of what we are trying to do, then the confidence of ‘Can I do this?’ – the confidence of having the ability to engage – allows us to make the effort, the energy, to apply the tools, the techniques for whatever skill we’re trying to develop, which leads us to the mindfulness piece, which in meditation is the mindfulness directed towards just our arising experience and being aware of what’s happening in the moment. This quality of course is required in playing the piano, just as with meditation. You need to be mindful of the notes, the pressure of the fingers on the keys, what you’re reading, the sheet music – for all of that you need to be mindful and aware. Then, energy and mindfulness work together to create a sense of concentration, which creates the ability, then, to more easily engage with the activity without so much effort. That’s the culmination, in a way, of the concentration, that there’s not so much intentional efforting towards the activity. It becomes a part of our skill – this is when the skill really begins to develop, when the concentration comes together with the mindfulness.
In our meditation when the concentration comes together, the meditation becomes more effortless. We don’t need to try so hard to meditate: it’s much more fluid and flowing.
These qualities of energy, mindfulness and concentration, together with the meditation ,allow our minds to begin to more clearly recognize the wisdom that we previously understood from reading or from things that people have said to us. We begin to understand them more directly, more experientially.
And then the cycle begins again. In a way, this is a kind of spiraling, deepening path through these qualities – the more we understand, the more confident we are and the more energy we bring to the practice. The more mindful we are, the more concentration develops, the more we understand, and so on.
So I’ve been talking about these qualities, and so far I’ve been talking about confidence, energy and mindfulness. Today and maybe for the next couple of weeks I’d like to focus on concentration.
When we consider these five qualities as a list, the quality of concentration is a bit different than the first three qualities. Confidence, energy and mindfulness are qualities that you can actively engage with; you can bring energy into your meditation; you can find ways to connect with confidence, consciously, in your meditation. You can consciously connect with mindfulness; we can have a little bit of control over connecting with these first three qualities. With concentration, where the fruit of the concentration is the deeper understanding of the wisdom, this cannot consciously be achieved. All that we can do is engage with energy and mindfulness to connect with our experience, over and over and over again; and with a particular container, a particular sense of relaxed connection to experience, concentration will arise.
So concentration isn’t actually something we do. It’s not something we can consciously say “Ok, I’m going to be concentrated now”, the way I can say “I’m going to use my energy to pay attention to this thing right now”. We have a little bit of control with energy: we can intentionally direct our minds towards paying attention. With respect to concentration, we can’t do that. We can’t say “I’m going to be concentrated right now”.
So, concentration is the result of our engagement, as opposed to something that we do. But it is a crucial piece of the practice. Getting familiar with concentration, understanding the conditions that support its arising, will greatly help us to allow concentration to appear.
Concentration helps to settle the mind, and it allows us to begin to see more clearly, to move towards a deeper understanding of meeting things as they are without reactivity. With the well-being that arises with concentration, we can meet our experience without either wanting to get rid of it, or wanting to hold onto it, but just balanced, with the flow of experience, the flow of changing experience. It’s concentration that allows that to happen.
So energy and mindfulness together, the two preceding factors of this list, are what support the arising of concentration. I’d like to talk for a few minutes about different ways that we can bring energy and mindfulness together to support the cultivation of concentration.
I’m going to talk about this because there are so many different ways, so many paths, so many different meditation techniques out there. There are a wide range of tools and techniques for cultivating energy and mindfulness, which result in a form of concentration. I’m going to map out that terrain by talking about the two ends, the two opposite sides of the spectrum of how concentration is developed.
First I’d like to talk about the one that we’re most familiar with when we think about concentration. If you think about what you actually mean or understand by concentration, that word itself tends to make us think of a narrow focus. The term itself tends to make us think about a narrowing – I’m really concentrated on this one thing. And that’s one end of the spectrum, a kind of a one-pointed focus of attention. We choose something in our experience to pay attention to, such as the breath, and we just keep coming back to that one thing, over and over and over again, letting go of anything that is not that experience. So in meditation with the breath, we bring our attention towards the breath, and let go of sounds, let go of thoughts, let go of emotions, let go of other body sensations, and just keep coming back to the breath.
This supports a rapid settling, or it can support a rapid settling of the mind, because you’re just abandoning and letting go anything not that one experience. It brings the mind into a very stable place. Stillness is the hallmark of this kind of concentration: stillness of mind, and stillness of experience. It moves more and more steadily towards a very tranquil, peaceful kind of experience, in which very pleasant bodily sensations start to arise: rapture, bliss, happiness; very sweet kinds of sensations begin to arise in this practice of just coming back to the breath, over and over and over again.
So that’s one side of the spectrum with respect to practice. In our meditation we pick something that we choose as our point – the breath, or perhaps we choose a mantra, or an image that we construct in our mind. There are many different ways, many different tools and teachings about how to cultivate that one-pointed awareness. The way we typically work here is with the breath.
Then at the other side of the spectrum is what we can call moment-to-moment concentration. This kind of concentration is cultivated not by bringing attention to one thing over and over again, but by maintaining a continuity of awareness within a changing field of experience. So the mindfulness continues to connect with a sight, a sound, a body sensation, a breath, an emotion, a thought, another body sensation, the breath again. There’s just this flow, this river of experience, and the awareness stays continuous, even as the experience continues to change.
So this is more of a stabilizing of the mind. The mind becomes very stable and still, and it doesn’t follow out after things that we like, things that we don’t like. It’s just this flow of experience, and the mind is non-reactive. The stillness of the mind is non-reactivity. It hears the sound of the car and it doesn’t start thinking about, “Well, wouldn’t it be great to not be sitting in here right now, but instead be able to just drive away, I’m sick of this lecture right now” – so instead of that, it just hears the sound. And then there’s another thing, a pressure on the butt, then there’s a feeling in the abdomen and then there’s a sense of moisture in the mouth, just a flow of changing experience, without reacting: pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, whatever comes up, the mind just meets it.
The concentration in this kind of meditation develops through the continuity of awareness. It’s actually harder. In the other practice, the practice of coming back to a single object, to the breath over and over again, the concentration also develops through the continuity of awareness. It’s just generally easier to realize when you’ve lost track of a single object than it is to realize that the mind has wandered off into reactivity, to this flow of changing experience.
In general it tends to be easier at the beginning to cultivate a stability of mind, to cultivate the stability of continuity of awareness on a single object. For many people it tends to be easier. For some people it’s not. For some people it’s easier to just connect, to just let go and relax and connect with the flow of experience.
Both kinds of concentration, the continuity of the awareness on changing experience and the continuity of the awareness on a single experience, both support this cultivation of non-reactivity. When you’re with the breath and a sound arises, you’re not reactive to that sound because you’re just coming back to the breath.
With the flow of changing experience, the continuity of the awareness, your continuity is meeting the next thing, whatever the next thing is. So there’s not much room for reactivity, because after the sound, there’s a body sensation, and then there’s a pressure, and then there’s a tension and then there’s a thought, and then there’s something else and something else and something else, so there’s just not much room for reactivity as the mindfulness gets more continuous.
We can’t really talk about concentration as being separate from mindfulness and energy, because it is the energy directing the mindfulness either towards a single object or towards this flow of changing experience that results in the concentration, which is the continuity of the mindfulness over time. It’s the energy to apply mindfulness over time that results in the concentration.
I’m going to stop there for a minute, to see if there are any questions. I’ve got a lot more I can say but I just wanted to check in and see if there are any thoughts. Yes.
So the moment-to-moment is easier to take off the cushion.
The moment-to-moment concentration is easier to take off the cushion, yes. That is absolutely true. Let me talk about that for a second, then I’ll talk about some of the range in-between, because it’s not really one or the other, that’s not all there is. There’s a wide range, where they kind of flow between each other. If we can get familiar with the moment-to-moment awareness in our sitting practice, how to be aware of the flow of changing experience in our sitting practice, then it’s much easier then to take that kind of mindfulness and begin to meet the world as we navigate it. As we drive, as we go into the grocery store, we can meet the flow of changing experience. One of my teachers, Joseph Goldstein, says “Only six things ever happen: there’s seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, and things coming up in the mind. And when we’re sitting in meditation there’s seeing, smelling hearing, tasting, touching and things coming up in the mind, and that mindfulness, that continuity of awareness, is just taking in the symphony of those six instruments. How they’re playing in this moment”.
And that practice in our sitting meditation of learning how to be with that symphony can translate into being in the symphony of walking through the Safeway. There’s seeing, smelling hearing, tasting, touching and things arising in the mind. “Ooh, I want that, oh I don’t like that, oh, I don’t like the fact that she jumped in front of me in the line”. All of that is just seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, things arising in the mind. Cultivation of that kind of mindfulness makes it much easier to then be more mindful in our daily lives, which is where the rubber meets the road. That is where a lot of our reactivity comes from. We can sit silently in meditation and have a bit of relief from our reactivity, from our stress, from our pain, from our struggles; and then as soon as we walk out the door, boom, it’s right back. So the more we can cultivate that ability to just meet whatever’s happening, and begin to see where the reactivity leaps off of our experience, that’s really a big part of this learning.
It’s learning to see where the mind begins to leap out of, something we like, to want it, to get it, to have it, to something we don’t like, to want to get rid of it, to push it away. The more we can start to see that reactivity as the whole pattern unfolds as being the kind of place that our suffering arises from, the more we see “Oh, don’t need to go there”, and we can just stay with that unpleasant thing, or that pleasant thing. Instead of following out after it to try to manipulate the world, we can just meet the world.
Now I’m not saying that we’re not supposed to change anything. The teaching is often misunderstood, I think, because we talk so much about non-reactivity, about not being reactive to unpleasant and not being reactive to pleasant, to want it, to get it; not being reactive to unpleasant, to want to push it away, to get rid of it. I’m not saying that we’re not supposed to do anything. It’s not simply about just being lumps on a log, sitting back, saying: “Oh yes, things as they happen”, and not responding. But the key here in understanding our minds is understanding that the suffering comes from the reactivity, the suffering comes when we react to something out of greed, of wanting to have it, of needing to have it, a feeling like our happiness depends of having it; the suffering comes from the wanting to get rid of, the aversion, the feeling like our happiness depends on getting rid of it. It’s that greed, that aversion, that delusion that is the source of that suffering – and if we can instead of reacting to things, respond out of compassion, respond out of kindness, respond out of friendliness, of balance of mind – that’s the kind of movement, in terms of meeting the world, that concentration begins to support.
As we begin to see where our reactivity is, we learn we have a choice. Do we need to be reactive? Are there things we can let go of? So many of the things we react to, we can let go of. It’s not really necessary to have everything that we think we want. It’s not necessary to get rid of, and to manipulate our environment, to fix other people, to fix the way they think, to fix the way they act. But it can be necessary at times to take action. If you see a child running out into the street in front of a car, you’re not just going to sit there and say “Things as they are”. You take action, you go and out of compassion and care for that child, you pull the child back off the road.
So the possibility of acting comes from compassion and kindness, instead of from greed and aversion. I just wanted to say that, because often it does sound like we’re saying “Oh, don’t do anything”. I’m suggesting that the tools of mindfulness and energy leading to concentration will allow you to begin to distinguish when an action comes out of this automatic kind of “Oh, don’t want that” or “Want that” to when an action can come out of more of a compassionate and kind place, a balanced place of mind, that isn’t so reactive, but is responsive. The mind that settles, the mind that becomes free of reactivity, is more naturally responsive, so we don’t need to fear that this practice will turn us into some kind of zombie. It actually opens our heart to more deeply connect with the world.
So that was a bit of a wander! Now I’m going to come back to the question, how it’s easier to take the moment-to-moment concentration off the cushion, and I’m going to talk for just a moment about the middle range of the different kinds of practices. I’ll just maybe pick one right in the middle. And that is a practice of awareness of the breath – and I guided you in this direction a little bit – where you can be aware of the breath and yet also it’s not excluding other experience. There’s a way with certain kinds of concentration practices, you’re so focused on the breath that it begins to exclude every other experience. All you become aware of is just the breath. There’s no sound, there’s no other body sensation, there’s just the breath, there’s no emotional experience, it’s just the sensation, it’s just that experience.
And then around that kind of one-pointed concentration come some very beautiful mental experiences. So the one-pointed concentration, the concentration I was talking about initially where I talked about the two sides, is kind of exclusive. You just let go of everything not the breath, and over time the mind just kind of zeros into that experience and gets absorbed into it. And then everything else falls away. There’s an intermediate place that’s between the two extremes and that’s where you’re paying attention to the breath and the breath is suffusing experience. So the breath goes through body sensations, the breath goes through sound, through emotion. So it’s a kind of a more encompassing experience.
It allows you to stay stabilized on one experience whilst not excluding other things. And that kind of practice is more like a hybrid in a way. You’re in the middle, you’re staying connected with one experience but also open – the mind is very wide to experience. That practice you can also take off the cushion. I think like it feels a bit like a kind of bubble around you, in that kind of a meditation or that kind of an awareness. The bubble of the breath, this protective bubble. With the moment-to-moment concentration, it’s not like there’s a bubble at all: everything is just right there. Does that answer your question?
So I see what you just recommended as breathing into a reactivity, or possible reactivity. For example, if you have a scenario in which anger is produced, you can breathe into the anger, to diffuse it. So that’s where I see it as the most helpful.
Breathing into a particular experience.
Skilful means are really important, but that’s not the only way to use it. That you found that for yourself is great – use it. There’s also the possibility of just staying with the breath and then it’s like that breath becomes the kind of extension of an antenna, and you notice the breath is shifting or changing a little bit, and there’s something to pay attention to here, so that it’s possible to use the breath more continuously in daily life as opposed to just when there’s some reactivity. But I also find it very helpful using the breath the way you describe.
It’s been described as the point around which a circle is drawn. Right?
Another way to look at it – this is the way Ajaan Geoff talks about it – is that the breath is like a candle in the middle of the room. And you can either turn your attention to that candle and just look at the candle, or you can notice that it lights up the whole space. And the lighting up the whole space is more the notion of it infusing all the experience. It’s the continuity of the mindfulness, joined with a kind of a light touch on that experience of breathing. And a much more broad experience, too, at least in my experience. It’s not a narrowed experience of breathing, it’s not like the breathing down here at the nose that we’re talking about, it’s a sense of the breath suffusing the whole body. And it’s more energetic, the energy body, the feeling of the energy through the body, staying with that, is a form of breath energy, as Ajaan Geoff says.
It amplifies the experience.
It can make it clear. It can make it more clear.
(inaudible) …to get back to the anger, to concretize your metaphor and get back to the anger. So you can breathe into the anger, but then there’s also the possibility of, if anger is an issue, then it’s an opportunity to – I keep thinking of inviting the anger in for tea? It’s like the Buddha and the Mara’s daggers and turning them into flowers, but you might not be able to do that immediately. It’s “oh – isn’t this interesting!” and you’re not going to take the anger out on the person that’s stepped in front of you, you’re going to use it as a grist for your own mill, and be curious and interested in the anger and to me that’s the candlelight filling the room – and I guess we’re not supposed to think in hierarchies, but I think, there’s something more enlightening there?
This practice which you’re describing is more on the side of meeting experience as it arises. The continuity of “Oh, isn’t this interesting! Anger has arisen in the mind. Oh, wow, what’s going on?” You know the body feels like this, the mind is thinking these kinds of thoughts. That is, cultivating the concentration on the moment-to-moment experience. And that is also very skilful if you can do it. If you can bring that interest so that you’re not reacting in that anger, but are just “Oh – here’s the anger, here’s what anger feels like. Can I meet this experience instead of lashing out at the person in front of me?” That’s great, and at times we find that we need to also use some skilful means from this repertoire of techniques, and sometimes it can help us to stay connected to that anger. Interest can be a tool to help us stay connected with that anger. The breath can be a tool to help us stay connected.
That interest can take you to a psychological insight.
“Oh, oh she reminds me of this person I had a lot of difficulty with thirty years ago”, or whatever. I guess you have to be careful not to get too analytical, too bogged down in it, but just a flash of insight can be really helpful.
And as a little aside, I went to the Rick Hanson talk. He’s a neuro-scientist, and he talked about how the acknowledgement of a negative emotion, the labelling of it, results in a decrease in the activity in the amygdala, the activity in the amygdala actually quietens down, and so I mean that’s like, the proof is in the pudding?
Well the proof is in the experience. We are a culture of needing the scientific evidence to say “oh yes, oh, oh, it actually does something to the amygdala”. But meditators have known for years that using that labelling is really helpful.
So I was looking at the sunflowers in the vase, and seeing concentric circles. I assume that the root of the two words concentration and concentric are the same. I don’t know that – I’m not a linguist by any means – but what I like about noticing the sunflowers and its concentric circles is that whether you’re focused on one thing or going from moment to moment, it radiates out.
Yes. Yes, that’s a nice analogy, actually, that sense that you can be at the centre looking at one thing or stepping out those concentric circles.
Just since you mention the term concentration, I’m going to offer some different translations of that term. The term is samadhi – it’s usually translated as concentration. The term itself, samadhi, has two parts to it: the ‘sam’ part which basically means ‘with’ and the ‘adhi’ part which means something like, ‘to stand’ or ‘to pose’. So to stand with, to join with, there’s a sense of connection. And then a word that is similar in English is ‘compose’. ‘Com’ means ‘with’, ‘pose’ means ‘stand’, so compose, and that’s kind of a different sense than concentrate, isn’t it? I mean we have a different sense of what ‘compose’ means. Compose has a sense of quietude, of stability, of a sense of a mind being present and balanced. That’s the sense of the moment-to-moment concentration in particular – that there’s a kind of a unification of mind that happens. It’s not unification on one thing, but it’s a unification of awareness, that the awareness is able to meet whatever is coming up.
So there’s compose, and some other terms that are different, but kind of in the territory: tranquillity, although tranquillity is more of a side-effect of concentration in a way. I mentioned some of the things that happen as the mind gets settled – the tranquillity, peacefulness, calm – those are hallmarks of concentration. The tranquillity in particular tends to be much more obvious in the one-pointed concentration where we’re focusing on a single object, because then, in that kind of experience, not only does the mind get still, but the object gets still, the thing we’re paying attention to gets still, and so everything kind of settles down.
There the tranquillity can be very, very clear, and some of other side-effects of concentration, the joy that comes, the sense of happiness and bliss, are just some beautiful states of mind that come with concentration. They can be quite clear. With the moment-to-moment concentration, the same things happen, but it feels different. The tranquillity is in the mind, and yet there’s a lot going on: the mind is connecting to the rapidity, the flow of changing experience, so that symphony of the six senses – seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, things going on in the mind – is not tranquil in the world of objects: it’s tranquil in the mind, in that the mind is not reactive to that world.
With balance of mind, peace comes – again, it’s not a balance that’s a result of things out there getting very still. It’s the balance of mind of non-reactivity.
Any other thoughts, any other questions, before I go on?
Ok. So to complete the circle of these five faculties, one of the other benefits of concentration, is that whether you’ve developed your concentration through the one-pointed kind of practice, or through the moment-to-moment kind of practice, the concentration that has been developed can then be turned towards understanding.
It can be turned towards looking at experience, seeing, just as you were describing, seeing how the mind is responding, the insights that come from watching how the mind reacts to things, and seeing, “Oh, this is happening because of causes and conditions”. “This person looks like my ex-boyfriend” and therefore, because of that connection in the mind there’s a reactivity to this person. So it begins to educate us in terms of how this reactivity happens, and as we begin to see that, the mind starts to let go of that reactivity. So the concentration really begins to open the door to more deeply understanding how this reactivity begins. And how it supports the letting go. Because of that understanding, the letting go starts to happen.
So this comes back to the wisdom aspect of the five faculties. We begin our practice through just hearing, for instance, a teaching like “It’s helpful to pay attention to anger instead of reacting to it, just see if you can be present with it, breathe with it instead of reacting to it, and see what happens”.
That simple instruction is a little bit of wisdom. And we take that and apply it and then we may at some point have an experience where “Wow, I see how that works”. And then the mind starts to let go of reactivity, because it’s seeing “Oh, in this inner change, I’m reaching out to something, and, boy, I know where that’s going: that’s heading to suffering”. So the mind begins to let go.
This continuity of mindfulness is very powerful. To use the analogy of mindfulness as a knife, that kind of mindfulness cuts, discriminates, discerns experience. Concentration is the sharpening of that knife. It makes it cut clearly and cleanly, and it’s very discerning. It brings the discernment. Those two pieces together, mindfulness and concentration, bring the discernment into our meditation, into our practice. And I can talk about that a lot more, but I’m going to leave that for now, because what I’d like to talk about briefly is the practice of concentration, and some of the supports for concentration.
When we think about how to concentrate, we typically – at least in my experience, and in the experience of watching other people try to do this – over and over again I see people trying to willfully stay with experience in order to get concentrated. It is almost a desperate “Oh, I’ve got to stay with the breath, I’ve got to stay with the breath”, or “I’ve got to stay with experience”. We end up grasping to hold on to the breath, or hold on to something in order to get concentrated. That can work, and does work, but it’s pretty brittle. The concentration that develops from that kind of willful application of attention is not very stable. It doesn’t last very long, it tends to be highly conditioned and it falls apart pretty easily. It’s really narrow, it’s very narrow.
And what I’ve learned in my own practice is that beginning with relaxation, the way I guided you in the guided meditation, is one of the best supports for concentration. It is really helpful to not be pushing the mind into something to try to stay connected with it in order to get concentrated. I’ve started to think about it as setting up the container of our meditation through learning how to bring attention to experience in a relaxed way. That is really the key, to learn to find a way to bring a relaxed attention – and the way to do that is different for everybody. We all have to navigate our way through this terrain of the meditation techniques to find what it is that will support this mind and this body to be relaxed and yet attentive.
So starting with relaxation is a good beginning. I’ve found that if I start with relaxation, I get a sense of what it feels like for the mind and body to be relaxed. And then beginning to see, can I direct the attention to something? Can I turn the attention to the experience of breathing? When I do that, very often initially my mind has a very strong habit of holding onto the breath to pay attention. As soon as I see that, the tension arising around trying, I go back to relaxation. I do that over and over and over again. Back to relaxation, try to connect with the breath. If I see it get tight, I back off. Over and over again. At some point in that process, the attention starts to figure out how to stay connected with the breath without that tightening.
So I really encourage relaxation for a long time. Use relaxation to support the settling down of the mind and body. The practice of relaxation itself, of noticing the tension, relaxing it, is a mindfulness practice – you’re beginning with the mindfulness practice to feel the tension in the body. Can you release it? Can you relax it? We can get a little agenda-driven around relaxation too. “Oh, gotta relax, gotta relax!” That will add yet more tension, so again it’s finding ways for you that are skilful for relaxation. It may be consciously relaxing the body, it may be taking some deep breaths. It may be just letting yourself sit there and connect with hearing. Finding your own way to support a relaxed attention.
For me, the main practice to cultivate that relaxed attention is by opening to changing experience. That is a very relaxing way to be for me. So I can sit in the midst of all kinds of things changing. It’s much harder for this mind to direct attention to something, and choose to say, “Ok, now I’m going to pay attention to hearing”, “Now I’m going to pay attention to that pain in my knee”, “Now I’m going to pay attention to the breath”. When I start adding a little bit of willful intentionality towards directing the attention, the mind gets tight.
It’s important in our practice to be able to have ease and relaxation of attention on both sides. Some people find it much easier for the mind to be relaxed when they’re just connecting to one thing. It’s like “Phew, now I can ignore everything else, I can just be relaxed and stay with the breath”. Then when they try to open up to everything, to the changing flow of experience, the mind gets really confused and reactive, so they need to move back to the breath. To relax.
For me, I need to start open. And then learn how to bring that relaxed attention to the directing of the attention. So for you, it’s a question of finding your own path to recognizing and understanding – what does it mean for you to be relaxed and attentive? That is the container for our meditation. If you can find a way to be relaxed and attentive, the meditation will unfold on its own, and you don’t have to do much of anything.
So I really encourage that exploration for each of you. And I’ll talk more about that next week, I think: different ways in to the relaxed attention, and different ways to use energy, different ways to use effort. Ways to learn how to connect. It really needs to be pretty light, the effort, just a split second of effort and then again, and again, and then again, so that it’s not heavy and grasping, it’s much more “Oh, can I be aware of this, and this, and this, oh, and this, and this”.
It’s actually pretty light, the kind of effort that we make to stay continuous. Again, it’s the effort and the mindfulness coming together, so those two pieces of, how do we bring the effort to the mindfulness, that will result in the concentration?
Any other questions before we finish? We only have a couple more minutes.
Let’s sit for two minutes, then. And in this two minutes, just see if you can allow yourself to relax, that’s really all we have time for, so, connect with relaxation.
I’m going to offer you one other thing that I find helpful. We can consciously try to relax the body, which is the way we did in the guided meditation, but we can also request the body and mind to relax and see how they respond. So in this moment, may the body relax. Not trying to do the relaxation, but dropping that request into the mind and body and see, how does it respond?
May the body relax.
May the body relax.
Thank you for your attention.