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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 20 over and over in our minds. if we want to know the subtleties of the mind or hold an object of observation, we should at least be able to figure out how we feel. self-reflection can involve thinking as well. as meditators, we often have a puri- tanical view that thinking is bad. The real- ity is that we’ll sit on the cushion and think anyway. why not think about something that will help us move in the right direc- tion? “now is my opportunity to train my mind. i have twenty minutes, and i am go- ing to engage my mind and try to train it, just like working with a horse.” even after we’ve settled down and begun to place our mind on the breath, our mind can still be pretty wild. we have fantasies of surfing or eating lunch. or we become fix- ated on anger or desire, and our emotions seem as solid as rocks. Fantasies and emo- tions are large thoughts that have the power to carry us far away, and getting to know them is part of the process of slowing down. but if we space out and let our mind roam, we aren’t really meditating, because we aren’t working with our mind at all. we’re just giv- ing more oats to the horse and letting it run around, thinking that will make it tamer. we have to watch how we handle our- selves. This is another level of self-aware- ness—being aware of how we’re meditating. Then when we notice that we’ve been swept away, that time hasn’t gone to waste, because as we note the patterns of movement, that allows us to recognize them more readily. at this level we also see a lot of neutral thoughts. These can be the most danger- ous to our meditation. because they don’t consume us the same way as passion or aggression, we grow accustomed to them. we think, “it’s not that bad; i’m not spac- ing out that much.” That’s like saying, “my house is not exactly clean, but it’s good enough.” we don’t want to expend the ex- tra energy, so we get used to living with a certain amount of dirt. Then there are our discursive thoughts, which manifest as agitation, or a stream of chatter. in working with discursiveness, it’s important not to think, “my mind is really wild, i have a lot of thoughts, and therefore i’m a bad person.” we have to be aware of what’s going on in our discursive thoughts,