5 Aug. Forget about the jhanas.

Saturday morning. My kids slept in allowing me to sit for a full hour.

I started off with a few minutes of buddhanussati (recollection of the Buddha). Just enough to remind myself where I was hoping to be going… Next 15 minutes: mantra practice. Much easier to focus on the mantra than on the breath or the body.

Remaining 40 minutes – anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing). When distracted by thoughts, I simply acknowledged them. I remembered: thoughts are like involuntary reflexes. As much personal as chills or sneezing. Just another function of my body. Not my fault.

At the same time, I tried to be aware of my body. So easy! By courtesy of the pain in lower back. At one point, I briefly rested against the backrest. (I meditate in a chair.) But after a few seconds, I straighten my back again. I’m not turning away from pain. I’d rather learn from it. And at times, I would forget about the pain entirely. And then I would lose the focus and the pain would again emerge from nothing.

When I’m focused on my breath and forget about the pain, is the pain still there?

Few minutes before the end I tried to become aware of not only my body but also the space surrounding it. I realized that with each in-breath I was absorbing it and distributing it throughout my body hence becoming less and less separated from it. My body – not a different entity, just a different form.

What about jhanas and Samathi? What about the bliss and pleasure? Forget about it! Maybe few seconds, maybe few breaths. So difficult, it’s like holding a glass of water and trying to make the surface of the liquid completely still, free of any ripples.

But at least I didn’t beat myself up for not being able to be still for too long. I understood that the ripples will always be there. That when you put any obstacles in their way the ripples will multiply. So at least I didn’t interfere. When the mind is not still, the best I can do is to observe it and accept it. That’s my takeaway from Sunday sitting. Nothing I could print on a t-shirt.

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