Ideas Presented in Chapter 3
Idea #12: A Lightly Handled Method Allows Nature to Flow
Meditation methods prescribe the actions you take to loosen the controlling grasp of the mind so that it can shift into openness. If this sounds like letting go of the wheel of the car, you have the right idea, but it is really more like letting a boat flow in a strong, safe current. To make the shift from your doing the driving to nature doing the flowing, you need to sit back in a passenger seat and relax your inner project-maker.
A common technique for making this shift is to take up a simple, short thought or word and repeat it, usually silently. Meditation methods vary in the content of the word-thought and in the style of the repeating, as well as the background thoughts you are expected to hold during the practice. In many methods, including Natural Meditation, the word-thought is called a mantra, which is a Sanskrit term from ancient India. The meditative function, being a built-in psycho-physiological function, does best with the least amount of human paraphernalia. So, the simpler the mantra and the technique, the quicker and more thorough will be the natural functioning. A mantra should be light and transparent. It should be short, not weighted with ponderous meaning and should have a harmonious sound. Mantras can be chosen by teachers or by oneself. Natural Meditation uses the native language and this course provides a simple, harmonious one in English.
Still more importantly, the handling of the mantra must be light. It must be free of striving. The method shouldn’t inspire you to grip and use the mantra like tool in the hand. In Natural Meditation the mantra is not a drill to penetrate through to silence, or a bell to drown out competing thoughts or a magic wand to bring special effects and blessings. The Natural Meditation mantra is more like a window. It is a frame for awareness, an opening onto transcendence.
The prospect of repeatedly thinking a simple word could seem a bit dry or even downright boring. Take heart. As we saw in the previous Idea, meditation profoundly attracts the mind. It will often draw you away from outside conversation, music, movies, etc. It will not do so in a binding trance, but in attractive attentiveness. This testifies to the depth and richness of inner life and the readiness of our minds to follow a trail that leads in the direction of that richness.
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