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Lions Roar : March 2007
Beyond making friends with ourselves, we can de- velop greater stability and equilibrium in our state of being. In many cases our tendency is to think that we can achieve a particular state of mind (or body for that matter) and hold it. I think this is the most common confusion that many meditators experience—that there is some absolute right way to do it, some ideal state of mind that we can achieve and sustain. Actually, our situation is changing from moment to moment, and there is really nothing to hold on to at all. Impermanence is a fundamental fact of our existence. Whatever we experience seems to morph constantly, and it seems like every event, every perception, every thought, every situation is slipping away just as soon as we feel we are getting a handle on it. Our meditation practice is really a way to attune ourselves to this ever- changing experience of the present moment. It is train- ing in the art of living as our life unfolds from moment to moment, like developing balance while standing on one leg on a windy cliff. This approach is summed up by the slogan “Not too tight and not too loose.” As we pay attention to our breathing, we use a light touch of awareness rather than a riveted and stiff kind of effort. On the other hand, if our effort is too loose, we simply wander around in a dis- tracted state of mind, without developing any insight or clarity about how our mind works. Developing equilibrium means that we ride the ener- gy of our mind like a surfer rides the waves. If the surfer holds too tight, she will fall. If she hangs too loose, she will fall. Sometimes she needs to hang ten, sometimes none at all. Likewise, riding the energy of our mind is a dynamic and ongoing process. CYNDI: Everybody gets too tight or too loose all the time. This is natural and normal. The yogic approach to balance integrates oppositional forces, the most basic elements being active and receptive. This is what dis- tinguishes yoga as more than a mere exercise program and makes it a natural training ground for cultivating mindfulness. When I begin teaching students how to do a hand- stand, most can’t do it at all. In addition to the fear factor, they simply don’t have the strength, coordination, and concentration required. They practice a few inch-high kicks up and leave it at that, a nice balance of reasonable physical effort and then mentally letting it go. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 54