Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coming To Rest

Jack Kornfield sometimes starts his sitting instructions with the suggestion that we "come to rest." Resting is an important component of vipassana meditation. We come to rest in the body, feeling it sitting; feeling the quality of energy in this moment just as it is. We then let the attention come to rest in the feeling of the body breathing. We are not trying to manipulate the experience in any way, but we are just resting out attention in this experience.

When we come to rest in the present moment experiences of the body and breath, the restless mind begins to collect and gather (and rest) in the present moment as well. From this resting place in the present moment, we can begin to see things more clearly as they arise. For example, during this morning's meditation, a garbage truck could be heard collecting trash from the containers in the alley behind Mission Street Yoga. Very few people would call this sound pleasant or even perceive it as wanted, if it were even noticed at all. From our place of rest, however, we could hear the sound as an arising event that had a time of duration, and then ended in stillness. 

We could also see how the mind reacted habitually to the sound. First it created a name for it based on past experiences. Then an image arose of the garbage truck and trash bin was making the sound. Then the tendency to either like or dislike the sound could be perceived, and then the stories about the sound or the people making the sound arose, creating a sense of self - of "I," "me," and "mine" where none actually existed. This was merely a sound and had nothing to do with any of us in the room.

This is just a small example of the kinds of insights we can gain when we allow the mind to come to rest in the body and the senses. Where even a garbage truck becomes an object of enlightenment.


No comments:

Post a Comment