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Relaxing the mind

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

For the past few months, I've been attempting a meditation technique that Ajahn Brahm describes as "relaxing the mind". This essentially consists of "letting the mind go" while meditating, allowing any old thought to pop up and the mind to wander, and then letting it "natually" settle. Ajahn Brahm discusses it at length here:

It has produced noticeable benefits, as I've been meditating longer and more often (about 20 - 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week), and indeed I feel calmer in daily life. It also engenders a pleasant, peaceful feeling that I've not encountered with meditation before. But just because it feels good, doesn't necessary mean it's beneficial. At the end of one of these sessions, my mind does indeed feel somewhat quieter, but it's not by any means still.

Has anyone here tried meditating in a similar fashion before? Has it "moved your practice forward" or tangibly improved your life? Maybe I just need to try longer sessions until my mind really does settle down. Any suggestions are welcome.

BunksEarthninjalobsterdantepwsova

Comments

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    This is what I primarily do now. It's brilliant practice, you don't try to manufacture any outcome of meditation.
    The minute you stop trying, a natural peace is present.
    It's changed my life completely and still is.
    You can try doing this while walking as well. (Or not try) haha.

    Keep going. It's a a brilliant way to meditate.

    lobsternakazcid
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @nakazcid said: Has anyone here tried meditating in a similar fashion before? Has it "moved your practice forward" or tangibly improved your life? Maybe I just need to try longer sessions until my mind really does settle down. Any suggestions are welcome.

    I've been doing something similar recently, I call it "resting in the present". The mind does become more peaceful and calmer, that seems like a good thing to me! Sometimes I imagine thoughts as waves passing.

    Earthninjanakazcidlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @nakazcid said:
    At the end of one of these sessions, my mind does indeed feel somewhat quieter, but it's not by any means still.

    Ripples on the pond? Agitation from lifes fishy arisings stirring up the mud? To be expected. <3 Stilling is a working process.

    Has anyone here tried meditating in a similar fashion before? Has it "moved your practice forward" or tangibly improved your life? Maybe I just need to try longer sessions until my mind really does settle down. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Yes indeed. There are many similarities in other traditions. There are stylistic differences, there may be preliminary practices that involve more focussed attention but ultimately we 'just sit'. My own practice is just sitting, at the moment with eyes lightly closed. I would feel little difference if walking, if staring at a spot on the floor or straight ahead, which are stylistic variations as is 'mindfulness', which ultimately is just being, rather than 'just being distracted'.

    My suggestion would be a retreat of any available sort. 'Being a visitor' as Ajhan Brahm describes. That would be inspiring and empower the stilling ...

    Quakers (for example) practice stilling. Those on yoga retreats may be introduced to meditation or body stilling. Dervish practices may involve sitting on massive cushions, that is stilling. You can even study dharma in a quiet library as a stilling ... B)

    The only one I have not done yet is hanging out with Quakers. Though I did attend a sufi group at one of their 'Society of Friends' buildings and regularly visited an art gallery hosted in another building. Always great to talk to artists. Come to think of it sitting or standing still in front of works of art is good stilling practice as long as you don't get distracted by the cognoscenti. ;)

    How about fishing in that lake (my Buddhist martial art teacher did this without a hook) in order to have a reason to sit by a lake ... mmm ... I could haz plan ...

    Earthninjanakazcid
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    Thanks, your comments do make me feel better about this practice. I guess I was concerned that my mind wasn't completely still. The other problem was that it seemed too easy. This spiritual stuff is supposed to be hard, right?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @nakazcid said:I guess I was concerned that my mind wasn't completely still. The other problem was that it seemed too easy. This spiritual stuff is supposed to be hard, right?

    Completely stilling the mind usually takes some time, but it doesn't have to be "difficult". It's partly about experience and partly about having the confidence to explore different approaches, finding something that really works, something that clicks.
    Sometimes people think they have to stick with a particular method they've been taught, even when it's not working for them. That's just silly, the answer is to try something else - there are a lot of possibilities. We're all different, and it isn't a case of one size fits all.
    You don't have to use counting, you don't even have to use the breath, there are other options. You don't have to keep your eyes shut, you don't have to do yogic contortions, you don't need a shrine, a lot of this is cultural baggage.

    Walkernakazcidrobotlobster
  • @lobster said:Quakers (for example) practice stilling.

    Not exactly. They do something called "silent worship" which is more like contemplation than meditation. There is no particular method for this practice, just sitting quietly, and people use the time in all sorts of ways. Some people read, some reflect on their lives, some try to feel the presence of "the God within" - but in my experience very few try to still the mind.

    lobster
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @nakazcid said:
    Thanks, your comments do make me feel better about this practice. I guess I was concerned that my mind wasn't completely still. The other problem was that it seemed too easy. This spiritual stuff is supposed to be hard, right?

    Most people invent ways to make this spiritual stuff hard, because that's what we do as humans haha.
    You don't have to still your mind the same way you don't have to stop all noise entering your ears.
    Or stop sights.

    The moment you stop trying to do anything in meditation, you are free. Let all experience just happen.
    I mean it's happening anyway, thought appears. Why argue and get upset the thought appeared? Did you have control over that thought appearing?
    Obviously no, just let it come and go :)

    Your mind naturally settles when you don't care whether a thought appears or not. You just cloud watch them.

    Nothing stirs up the mind more than trying to stop thoughts and getting frustrated when they appear.

    Love you guys !

    nakazcidlobsterdantepw
  • @nakazcid said:
    This spiritual stuff is supposed to be hard, right?

    The problem is our inner monkey, craving for something different, conditioned behaviour etc. This is the mud, karma if you like that is easily agitated. The natural mind, the 'face before you were born', Buddha Nature etc is pristine pure and unsullied by even such attributions.

    This is why relaxing the dross of existence and our being is so important. Imagine if we were able to 'relax the mind' formally as Ajahn Brahm suggests on a regular preferbly daily, basis. Or practice something equally calming and centering on stillness. It does not mean we become instantly empty of existence, thoughts, arisings etc. It means we are engaging the habitual stilling.

    That is a very simple plan. It works.

    EarthninjaJeffrey
  • @nakazcid said:
    It has produced noticeable benefits, as I've been meditating longer and more often (about 20 - 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week), and indeed I feel calmer in daily life. It also engenders a pleasant, peaceful feeling that I've not encountered with meditation before. But just because it feels good, doesn't necessary mean it's beneficial. At the end of one of these sessions, my mind does indeed feel somewhat quieter, but it's not by any means still.

    It's hard to relax the mind when you cannot find it. You need an object to be able to relax it. While doing what Ajahn Brahm said, try looking at the tension in you face muscles and relax it.
    Moreover, still mind is invisible, so don't try to look for it. If something beneficial comes, you probably won't be the source of it, so just relax and wait.

  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing great lakes Veteran

    @nakazcid wow thank you for posting that video! he is amazing.

  • I guess, with ADD or ADHD, this relaxing the mind takes a slightly different form.
    I sit down and chant, as I chant, my focus becomes stronger steady. Monkey mind just jumps and skitters wherever - let it go, let it go, let it go. Monkey mind becomes like the background noise in a ham set - it is there, but unnoticed - static..
    The greater mind asserts naturally, calmly.

    Shoshin
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @Barah My understanding of this practice is that there is no object. The point is to not direct or force the mind onto a particular object.

    @sova Thanks, but I can't take credit for it. I think I first saw it posted in an old thread by @SpinyNorman . Thanks Spiny!

    @Lionduck When I was a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD. It's let up some with age, but monkey mind is definitely still a problem with me. This kind of practice seems well suited to monkey mind. Just let the monkey jump around 'til it gets tired and settles down.

  • someone might like this:

  • @nakazcid said:
    Barah My understanding of this practice is that there is no object. The point is to not direct or force the mind onto a particular object.

    Mind and you are not two, so if you let it wander, you will wander as well. It will find objects, and you will focus on them. Instead of not forcing you mind, you will force it into checking if it is not focusing on any particular object. You will do twice more then before, and you will get tired quickly.
    The goal is right, not clinging to a particular object, but to do it effortlessly, you need to convince yourself/your mind, that effort is not needed. I did it, by seeing the sameness of every object. Although things appear differently, they share the same nature. Nothing is more then just a presence before the mind. Their particular presence is impermanent, without self, and causes suffering. Understanding this removes grasping after, and running from them. Everything was, is, and will be presence. Relaxing into this presence is meditation.

    sovaJeffrey
  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing great lakes Veteran

    @Barah: excellent words.

  • @nakazcid said:
    Thanks, your comments do make me feel better about this practice. I guess I was concerned that my mind wasn't completely still. The other problem was that it seemed too easy. This spiritual stuff is supposed to be hard, right?

    Why?

    lobsterInvincible_summer
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