Zen Meditation Course 8 – Letting Be
Welcome to session 8.
During these sessions, I’ve talked about using your breath as a focus for your mind. You need some focus, because the mind always wants to be doing something; thinking mostly. Jumping like a monkey from one thing to another. Focusing on the breath is an opportunity to calm that down.
Then I talked about thoughts; acknowledging them and letting them go. Today I want to mention something related to that, which is letting your experience just be.
So you can take your sitting position now. Take a minute to feel your body and bring everything into alignment. Hands in your lap, thumbs lightly touching. Feet flat on the floor, if you’re sitting on a chair. Take a couple of breaths, breathing out long on the exhale, through the mouth. Let any tension you have release with that out breath.
Adjust your position if you need to. Then, when you’ve brought your mind into your body, so to speak, just begin the natural breathing we’ve been doing. Breathe gently through the nose, just being aware of the body, rising and falling. Watching the breath. Using enough energy to maintain that awareness of the breath, without straining.
When you find yourself thinking, just acknowledge that, and let the thought go.
So, I talked in the previous session on how you might see thoughts as obstructions. But actually, thoughts don’t have any real substance. They’re light and spacious in their own right. There isn’t actually anything to hold on to. As we continue to breathe now, and thoughts appear, see if you can appreciate that insubstantial quality about them.
Occasionally as you sit, you can direct your mind back to the body, just noticing how it feels. Where the areas of discomfort or tension are. If you can sit without being disturbed by the discomfort, just continue to do so. If you want to adjust your position, do it slowly and mindfully.
I’ve mentioned ‘letting go’ a lot. And earlier I mentioned that Zen meditation doesn’t have any real object that you need to focus on. We use the breath as a kind of anchor though, until such time as we can let that go. And when you get interested in the nature of thoughts and become less disturbed by them, you can let them go, too.
As you continue to practice, a space opens up, and you become comfortable in that space. That’s when you don’t really need to let go of anything so much. You can just let it all be. Nothing to let go of. Breath is just breath and thoughts are just thoughts. All in that limitless expanse of the mind. In a sense, there’s absolutely nothing to do. Let’s continue breathing, now.
So, as you continue to meditate, just let that idea of letting go and letting be take root. There’s no need to make an effort to make it happen. When you’re not ‘just sitting’ you can ask yourself sometimes: – what are thoughts, really? And what does it mean just to let go, and let it all be?
Let’s sit a little longer, before we finish.
Now bring your attention back to the body. Note how you feel, after this session. Let your mind do whatever it wants, now.
I hope now, that you’re getting a flavor of what meditation is about. And I hope you’re curious enough to want to continue. Just five to ten minutes is enough time, you can sit for longer of course. If you come to the practice with an intention to sit for ten minutes, then see if you can keep that commitment for that session. Think of it more as a journey than a destination. And enjoy the benefits.
So, for now, I’ll say goodbye. Thanks for listening.
”Thoughts don’t have any real substance. They’re light and spacious in their own right. There isn’t actually anything to hold on to.