In a world of constant distractions from pocket-sized technology to the twenty-four-hour news cycle, it’s remarkable how meditation has begun to “trend” in a culture that never seems to slow down. But trends can become overwhelming, and meditation trends are no exception. You can download meditation apps, wear tech that helps you meditate and achieve certain brainwave states. You can even frequent studios that are dedicated to meditation. In some cases, so many bells and whistles have been added to this practice that we’ve lost sight of what it truly is.
In Enza Vita’s Instant Presence, she defines natural meditation and explains what we are actually aiming for by meditating. When we sit down to meditate, many of us try to control our thoughts. We have gotten it into our heads that meditation means being void of thoughts, so when they come up, we work to stop them, to control the situation so we can “achieve” an awakened state.
As Vita points out, when we try to teach the mind to be still, we may think we’ve succeeded, but we are, actually, just controlling it—we aren’t stopping our thoughts so much as teaching ourselves to ignore them. Meditation is not about forcing the mind to be quiet, but rather letting go of the need to make our minds submit. After all, “the mind depends on this constant movement for its continued existence.”
Let that sink in: Your mind needs constant movement to stay alive, so wiping it free of thoughts is not a goal you want to achieve. Instead, we want to let go, relax into the moment, and try not to manipulate that moment or our experience of it. Vita puts it best when she says, “what I’m talking about is to leave the mind as it is, without giving it anything to do.” In other words, embrace your brain’s natural state.
Natural is the operative word, and it is referring to not just meditation, but also the fact that our natural state of being is awakened. We don’t need to disregard or stifle our thoughts. We can, instead, fully embrace our own hardwired state of awareness by letting go of our reactions to those thoughts and our experiences.
The practice of Instant Presence that Vita outlines in her book of the same name boils down to exactly that: resting the mind in an effortless way. Meditation is not “quieting the mind” but quieting our reactions to its activity. In letting go of judgments about our thoughts and our ability (or inability) to stop them from coming, we can fall into a natural meditative state and fully embrace our built-in state of awareness.
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