Beyond The Thoughts Lies Freedom

This morning I ‘opened’ my zendo up for daily meditation. It was the decision I made yesterday. Yesterday it still felt like a burden and a challenge; this morning it felt like a relief.

As expected I was alone. Not very surprising because I sent out the ‘news’ at midnight and only to a handful of people. But after the first period of 25 minutes I opened my door and I heard Erika come in. It was now 09.00 am and she had a busy day ahead of her. She decided to join me for the second period.

The topic of last Sunday’s group session was ‘Presence & Surrender’. I think these two go hand in hand. I have to drop my concepts and ideas that are keeping my mind entertained to make the transition from mind to ‘here & now’.

In my experience our mind constantly creates subtle and not so subtle obstacles, limitations and distractions. Especially in the beginning it is hard to identify for example our judgments because they appear as completely normal everyday thoughts. When I sit on my cushion and my inner voice goes ‘hmm, I feel I have meditated long enough today’ it might sound like an honest assessment of my current state of mind. It will feel very natural to get up from my cushion and go on with my day. I might even feel good about myself because I put in some spiritual practice. It gets interesting when I decide to treat this information as merely a thought instead of a factual assessment: a thought that I can let pass by. Quite likely I will start producing more thoughts, increasingly louder and less polite, trying to persuade me to stop meditating. Soon I will find out that a part of me has a very clear opinion about me sitting on that cushion. It is WRONG! You should not sit there! My mind will try to tell me that it is boring and useless and if continue to disregard these ‘facts’ then I might even find that that particular part of me feels threatened.

During the 100 Day Warrior the invitation is to explore the space beyond our comfort zones. The easiest way is to surrender to the program and let the experience unfold. But this is usually not how most of us are wired. We are filled with opinions, expectations and beliefs. So we question and negotiate. The interesting part is to explore why we question and negotiate. We fear influence and negative experiences, we fear what we do not know.

In spiritual practice we want to unveil and surpass the thinking mind. This is quite difficult because we are so used to its anxious-thoughtsinstructions. Even if we do some practice we tend to give it the last word. So it takes a certain willingness and courage to give up resisting; not only the gross and obviously childish resistance but also the subtle and apparently wise resistance. You will be amazed about what happens when you start challenging your thinking mind and what you will find underneath the simplest, blandest, most casual thoughts.

When I look at all the stories I created around my flue, and how they became an obstacle to do what I love, namely writing, training and helping others I feel humbled. The thinking mind is such a phenomenal opponent, so clever at discouraging me from stepping up. And at the same time it felt like such a relief when I cycled to the zendo this cold but beautiful morning, feeling the breeze in my face. Surrendering unconditionally to a heartfelt discipline is not weakness; it is freedom.


Funny and spot on illustrations stolen from Mindfulness Belfast. Check out their site, they explain the mindfulness theory very well.

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