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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
20 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 1 3 NARAYAN HELEN LIEBENSON: Hmm. I don’t know about sitting meditation becoming addictive. I guess I’d say that there are many unwholesome things one can become addicted to, but that meditation, whatever the posture, is always a wholesome activity. For some people, particularly those who experi- ence a lot of anxiety, meditation may become a kind of self-medication, a way of calming the nervous system. I don’t have any objection to using sitting this way. I know how difficult life can be. However, this isn’t enough to bring about inner freedom. You need to also cultivate wisdom. How do you define meditation? Do you define it as just sitting quietly? Have you developed a habit of running to your cushion as a way to avoid pain in your life? If you see meditation as confined to just sitting, then you may be turning away from your life rather than toward it and using meditation in an addictive way. If so, your relationship to meditation needs to change for true transformation to occur. It can be hard to remember just how crazy the mind can be, once it’s calmed down a bit. That is the power of sitting practice. When we practice regularly in the sitting posture, our standards do rise. What we have tolerated and survived in the past becomes not good enough. When we’ve had a taste of how clear and open the mind can be, we know that it can always be that way. I would say you need to pay atten- tion to that crazy and inhuman feeling in the moment it arises, without panic, and without plotting the next time you’ll be able to sit again. You may be granting these feelings more power than they intrinsically have; this is worth investigating. Dedicate yourself to becoming more conscious in the here and now. You have a beautiful invitation right in front of you. You have many years of dedication to the sitting posture, a foundation of collectedness and steadiness. How about liberating yourself in all postures, lov- ingly attending to each moment as the only moment there is? will help you settle even more deeply. As you settle, a natural sense of pres- ence emerges, a wakefulness that is the connection with simply being. There will be warmth. This is a very natural experience. As you experience the genuine warmth of being present, allow the experience from the day before to come into your practice. Welcome this experi- ence as if you were a good host opening the door to your home. Simply connect with what happens in your body, your breath, your emotions, and your mind. Don’t analyze or think about what you experienced yesterday; simply allow the experience to come alive and notice what shifts and changes. As you “host” this experience, feel the support of the stillness, silence, and spaciousness. You may become aware of a dullness or contraction in your body, or some inner dialogue or painful story that you have been telling yourself may emerge. Do not argue or analyze or change any- thing. Simply allow the inner voices and thoughts to be there, and continue lis- tening to the silence in your meditation. This experience that felt so vivid the day before—this “you” or pain identity— will dissolve in the open space of your meditation and the sense of alienation will heal. Once again you can experi- ence being at home in yourself, at home in this moment. Instead of our everyday experiences disconnecting us from our- selves, they can become opportunities to reconnect us with the benefit of being present in each moment. As you go about your day, you can view these three points of practice—con- necting with stillness of the body, silence of inner speech, and spaciousness of mind—as three pills that you can take whenever you begin to feel disconnected or challenged. Any one of these pills can support you in discovering that each experience in your life, instead of dis- connecting you, can be a doorway back into the richness of your natural mind, or true nature. And when you are fully present in your life, you will naturally be in relationship with others and bring benefit to them. 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