Zen Meditation Course 7 – Letting Go
Welcome to session 7.
In this session I want to talk about letting go. Letting go of thoughts, not getting caught up in them.
In a sense the whole meditation experience is about letting go. When you come to sit, you’re in a space where you can let go of your daily concerns and activities. Just put all of those ‘doing ‘ things away for a while, and allow yourself some ‘being’ time.
So now, you can take a few moments to bring yourself into that space. Sit as you prefer, on the floor, or the chair. It may be a little easier now to find your way into the posture. Remember to check your alignment, ears over the shoulders and nose in line with the navel. Shoulders relaxed, hands in your lap. Being aware of your contact with the floor or the chair.
Take a few breaths in and out, and move around a bit if you want to kind of rock yourself into position. When you’ve found your spot, so to speak, just let your awareness descend through the body, from the top of the head, all the way down. Feel grounded, like a mountain. And then imagine your head being suspended from the ceiling, by an invisible thread. Feel the length of your spine, straight and still relaxed.
Breathe gently through the nose. Let your awareness follow the breath, feeling its natural rise and fall. Count from one to ten on the exhale, if you want to.
As you observe the breath and the mind, just notice your thoughts as they come up. Where do thoughts come from and where do they go? The analogy of clouds in the sky is quite striking, really. Clouds appear in that blue space of the sky and drift on by. Then they’ve gone. Thoughts arise in the space of the mind, and if you don’t grasp at them, they’ll drift on through and disappear. They come from nowhere and go nowhere.
It might help if, when a thought comes up, you silently acknowledge it as ‘just thinking’ and let it go. Then let your awareness rest with the breath, again.
So, when you get distracted by thoughts, you’re engaging with the content of those thoughts. It’s quite easy to do this before you know it, but letting go is simply about not engaging with that content. Just noticing it as thinking, and letting it go.
Maybe you think thoughts are a nuisance and get in the way of meditation. But actually they’re all part of the meditation. There’s no need to dismiss them. Bring that energy of awareness into play, to just watch them move on through, but don’t strain. Thoughts don’t need to be suppressed. They’re fine, we just don’t need to get attached to them.
Let’s breathe a bit more, now.
Breathing naturally. Being aware of the body and the breath, and being here right now.
You can begin to let go of that focus, now. Just check in with how you feel, physically and emotionally. Did you get a sense of acknowledging your thoughts and just letting them go? Minds are busy things, and some days they seem to demand more attention than on others.
We take thoughts for granted. They’re a function of our existence. When you’re not meditating, or maybe just before you get up to go about your daily life again, think about thoughts. What are they, how is it they just pop up out of nowhere, the way they do? Don’t look for a verbal answer, just wonder about it. You might feel the answer without being able to express it in words. Asking the question and feeling that sense of wonder is the important thing. The wondering can open up a mindspace.
That’s it for today. I hope you’re enjoying this experience of meditation. See you again soon.
”When you get distracted by thoughts, you’re engaging with the content of those thoughts. It’s quite easy to do this before you know it, but letting go is simply about not engaging with that content. Just noticing it as thinking, and letting it go.