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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
42 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2017 practice O Meditation Only Goes So Far by Lama Willa Miller One hot summer evening several years ago, I found myself listening to a teach- ing in a meditation hall in upstate New York, an activity that had become far too rare at that point in my life. A hush came over the crowd as the diminutive teacher entered the room and took his seat. “Do you want to know the secret to meditation?” he asked. Vigorous nods answered his question. Who doesn’t like to be in on a secret? “All right. The secret to meditation is—” He paused again to heighten our anticipation. “Don’t meditate.” After pausing again to let the instruction sink in, he added, “Instead, just be present, as you are, right here, right now. No grasping. Nothing more needs to be done.” I’m not sure what others in the room experienced, but for me there was a sudden shift. I felt myself falling into a space of being acutely, vividly, and simply aware. The Tibetan word for meditation is gom, which essentially means “to get used to something by repeating it.” When we meditate, we return to a technique again and again. This familiar return can be comfortable, but it can become repetitive or even boring, resulting in resistance to the practice itself. What can we do about this boredom and resistence? Just as meditation carries the implication of repetition, the term “non-med- itation” carries the implication that every time we sit we are not repeating the same thing again and again. We are observing something totally new in every moment. Every time you sit down, there is an encouragement to consider this meditation session as your very first. Simply by reframing our practice as non- repetition, we can acquaint ourselves with the uniqueness of each meditation session. In Mahamudra meditation, the present moment of awareness becomes our meditation “object.” Instead of doing something, we practice dropping effort and just resting in the here and now. If we are really in the present moment, a sense of adventure will often spontaneously arise, because anything can hap- pen. There is an unpredictable unfolding of experience—feelings, perceptions, sounds, thoughts—as we ride the wave of now.