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Thoughts on Meditation
by Shawn Nevins

Meditation is like diving into a pool of muddy water. You have to stay in a while before the mud settles and you can see what is going on. You might see that your mind is… mud.

Meditation is observation. Observation requires concentration. Concentration requires energy.

winter - cabin at Brooklyn Lake, Wyoming What we observe is not us. If this does not make logical sense to you, then ponder it some more. If it still does not make sense, then take it as a matter of faith because that simple statement is the foundation of [Richard] Rose's assertion that the way to an unknown truth is to back away from untruth.

It is good to begin with a habitual practice of meditation. Find a time, place, and form that works for you and keep at it regularly. Remember observation needs concentration and energy, so build a lifestyle that allows you success. If you want more, make time for more. If you don't want more, then you should reexamine what you are really after.

I imagine everyone in this group is beyond such things as visualizing apples with diamonds in their center, and reviewing the day's events to discover why they felt offended by their boss's comments. You want to "go within" and that will take concentration until it becomes a habit. It will take exploration until you remember the feel of being deep in the water of that muddy pool. You can help the mud settle by learning to turn your observing from thoughts. Rather than examining each as it passes by, you mentally look away into emptiness, not giving even the energy of passive attention to the thoughts.

Embrace the idea that what you see is not what you are. Dwell in the utter unknowing and hold your mental breath for as long as you can under the still, clear and deep water.

Meditation could also be called feeling or listening ... which requires concentration; which requires energy. This is difficult to describe. It is not feeling a back pain or feeling an emotion, but like feeling for the sun to break the horizon. Or feeling for an old, but unknown friend to step around a corner. Feeling, listening, waiting for something just out of reach; just beyond the limit of our physical hearing and feeling. This is not implemented in quite the same way as backing away from untruth, yet is like a corollary. At the same time we back away from untruth, there is a tiny feeling guiding us as well. Our backing away allows that feeling to grow. It requires focus and ease.


Q: There have been several people – long-time meditators – who have told me that they typically sink down to a spot during their meditation where there's no mind movement, only blackness … it's very peaceful and refreshing, but they don't get any further. Since I didn't experience that … there was always mind movement, but at the end it moved over to my peripheral vision and didn't interfere with observation … I couldn't relate to where they were. I imagine my responses were something along the lines of: If it's peaceful, and if you don't feel it's going to take you further, it may just be a nice resting spot … it may take some irritation to remind the mind of the scorpion sting, etc. Is that an experience you're familiar with? Is it basically the spot where you advise to keep looking/listening/feeling/waiting for something just out of reach?

Shawn: I think it's a solid platform to begin looking at some subtle aspects of mind. Mind is not only movement. What is looking? What is aware of the blackness? If you see it/feel it, then what does that imply about it? Can they see when a thought emerges from the blackness. Can they look towards that emergence point? Can they retraverse the projected ray of their self?

I haven't figured out a methodological placement for the looking/feeling/waiting. It's Rose's dotted line on Jacob's Ladder. It's Bob [Fergeson]'s Listening Attention. Yet where does that fit in meditation? Maybe it's right-brain meditation rather than left-brain meditation. Yet, I also see meditation as pushing (backing away from untruth) while there is a pull (if we live a life that allows us to be aware of it). No tidy package of explanation for that one....

Back to the sinking down: those people have peeled away some of the onion layers, but there are more… unless they are unconscious.

Shawn wrote this essay for the participants in a 6-week meditation practice discussion project. See Shawn's Poetry in Motion Films and Spiritual Teachers websites.

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