WEINGAARDE // UTTERBÄCK
RETREATS // MEDITATION // PSYCHOTHERAPY // SPIRITUALITY // SILENCE
Meditation does not involve trying to change your thinking by thinking some more. It involves watching thought itself. By watching your mind without being drawn into the thoughts, you can experience something profoundly liberating about how you think. These insigths may help you to be aware of those thought patterns—often so strong in us—which are narrow, inaccurate, self-centered, and also just plain wrong.
Practicing meditation in this way, our thought patterns will change by themselves in ways that nourish relations, understanding, and compassion in our lives. But not because we are trying to make them change by replacing one thought with another that we think is more pure. Rather, it is about understanding the nature of our thoughts as thoughts, and our relationship to them, so that our mind can be at our service rather than the other way round.
During meditation, we intentionally treat all our thoughts as if they are of equal value. As best we can, we bring awareness to them when they arise, and then we intentionally return our attention to the breath as the primary focus of our attention, regardless of the content of the thought and its emotional charge. We intentionally practice letting go of each thought that attracts our attention, whether it seems important or not doesn’t matter. We observe them as thoughts, as discrete and transient events that appear in the field of our awareness.
It’s important to see that letting go of our thoughts does not mean suppressing them. Many people understand it this way and make the mistake of believing that meditation requires them to shut off their thinking or their feelings. Thinking is not bad during meditation. What matters is whether you are aware of your thoughts and feelings during meditation - and how you relate to that.
Trying to suppress thoughts will only result in greater tension and frustration and more problems - not calmness, insight, clarity, and peace.
Practice: Become aware of your thoughts and emotions in this moment, observing yourself with kindness, without judging anything.
Meditation is about being comfortable with the richness of allowing yourself to be with your own mind.
It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not “you” or “reality.”
Awareness is not the same as thought. It Iis beyond thinking, although it makes use of thinking. Awareness is fundamentally non-conceptual—before thinking splits experience into subject and object. Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thoughts as thoughts rather than getting caught up in them as reality. The thinking mind can be very fragmented. In fact, it almost always is. This is the nature of thought. But awareness, with conscious intent, can help us to perceive this even in the midst of fragmentation. Awareness is not limited to the potpourri of our thinking mind. Awareness is the pot which cradles all the fragments, just as the soup pot holds all the chopped vegetables and allow them to cook into one whole - the soup itself. Awareness itself does the cooking, as long as it is sustained. You just let the fragments stir while you hold them in awareness. Whatever comes up in mind or body goes into the pot, becomes part of the soup. Awareness in itself is empty; thus it can contain everything, including thought. It is boundless. Open awareness it self is love: it is formless. So all our efforts are for that, to sustain open awareness. Because of that you experience the world.
Breath. In this moment while you are reading these words, tune into the feeling of the breath coming into your body and the feeling of the breath leaving your body. That’s all, feel the breath. Breath and know that you are breathing. This doesn’t mean deep breathing or forcing your breath, or trying to feel something special, or wondering whether you’re doing it right. It doesn’t mean thinking about your breathing, either. It is bare awareness of the breath moving in and the breath moving out.
Perhaps you already noticed that your mind tends to move around a lot. Keep your attention focused on the breath. Before long, you will find that the mind is off someplace else. It has forgotten the breath; it has been drawn away.
What does happen as we intentionally pay attention to our breath is that we quickly realize that we are immersed in a never ending stream of thoughts, coming one after another in rapid succession. Everybody has a mind that behaves in this way. It is the way the mind is.
Each time you become aware of this while you are meditating, the instruction is to note briefly what is on your mind or what carried your attention away from the breath. Then gently bring your attention back to your breathing, no matter what carried it away.
Regardless of whether the thoughts are pleasant or unpleasant, we intentionally let go of them and refocus on our breathing once again, and on the experience of being “in our body”. We repeat this a thousand times - as many times as necessary. And it will be necessary.
At the same time you develop patience and non-judgement. You are not giving yourself a hard time because your mind keeps wandering away from the breath. You simply return awareness to the breath, gently but firmly.
Practice: Staying with one full inbreath as you breath in, one full outbreath as you breath out, keeping your mind open and free for just this moment, just this breath.
Use the breath to bring you back to the present moment.
Let go of all ideas of getting somewhere or the wish to make anything happen.
Keep returning to the breath when the mind wanders, breath by breath.
Letting go. To meditate does not mean to sit still and think! When thinking takes over, you lose contact with your body and your larger awareness. As humans we hold on very tightly to our thoughts, our ideas, and our emotions. We believe that they are real and that letting go of our thoughts would be to like giving up our very identity.
To let go implies to let go of something. The something that we are holding on to may simply be a creation of our mind, an illusory perception of something, and not the reality of the thing itself. Everything is an object of our mind and is colored by our perception.
You get an idea, and before you realize it, you’ve become stuck in that idea. You may get scared because of that idea you’re believing in. You might even get sick because of it. Perhaps that idea brings you a lot of unhappiness and worries, and you would like to be free. But it is not enough that you want to be free.
You have to give yourself enough space and quiet to become free.
Sometimes we need to take a bit more time to look deeply into an idea or an emotion and discover its roots. After all it came from somewhere; it was formed in our childhood perhaps - or maybe even before we were born.
Once we recognize the roots of an emotion or idea, we can let it go.
The first step is to come back to our breath and calm our body and mind. This will bring more space and clarity so that we can recognize the idea, desire, or emotion that’s troubling us, acknowledge it, and then give ourselves permission to release it.
In general, 90 percent of our thoughts - or more - only take us around and around in circles and lead us nowhere.
Acceptance. Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening. It simply means a clear acknowledgment that what is happening is happening. Acceptance doesn’t tell you what to do. What happens next, what you choose to do, that has to come out of your understanding of this moment.
This is the virtue of nonaction. We dont interact with our thinking. We bring our mind back to our body, and become truly present. Nonaction is very important. It is not the same thing as being passive or inertia; it’s a dynamic and creative state of openness. We sit there, very awake, very light..