Summary: A meditator shares his experience of waiting in line mindfully and really enjoying the moment. Sathi expands on this explaining the different ways the situation could have been handled, both negatively and positively. He explains how “letting go” allows us to expand our awareness and really notice and observe what is going on around us.
Sathi then goes a little deeper comparing meditation to filter water. How we can use meditation to practice mindfulness, learning how to filter out impurities in thoughts much like we use different filters to obtain pure water. We trust water filters much like we can learn to trust the process of meditation to remove unhealthy elements.
[Sathi] Are there any questions or suggestions for discussion?
Heightened Awareness While Waiting in Line
[Meditator] I had an interesting experience yesterday. I went to a Cub Pharmacy for a flu shot and I thought they wouldn’t be busy at all but they were really busy. So, I had to wait. What I did is put my eyes out of focus while I was standing there and it was really amazing because I heard all the different sounds throughout the store. I just felt really at ease. It was a nice, nice experience.
I was seeing details that I would never have noticed before. Because I just go in there and do the “male” shopping. You buy everything and then run out. This was a nice peaceful moment. I don’t even know how long I waited. I think it was quite a long time.
If you could talk about this. I think about them as mini-meditations throughout the day.[Sathi] When you stop doing that “rushness”. Then, you begin to hear, you begin to feel, you begin to see, what is around you.
What is happening with us? Most of the time we are in our head. We are not where we are. Even though we are shopping you are seeing things that you want to see. If you are looking for bread, then you are just seeing bread far away in the corner. You don’t see anything around you. Unless you are [the type of] person who will grab everything in the store. [laughing]
We don’t see, we don’t hear, we don’t feel what is there. We feel what we want to feel in our heads. We hear what we want to hear. Think about this, when you are here you don’t hear any sounds except the speaker and myself. But, when you close your eyes to practice meditation, you hear so many sounds around you. Sometimes you may hear the sounds of somebody breathing. Now you don’t. If someone is chewing gum, you will hear it during the meditation. But, you don’t hear that now. Why?
Because you are not in your head anymore.
There’s another important point that you need to understand. The ability to let go. When you have an idea in your head, you are holding it. That is why you don’t see anything around you. When you are holding certain emotions, certain experiences, certain feelings, you don’t see what is happening because you make a judgment based on what is in your head.
Shopping is the same. Yesterday Peter, you had two choices. The main choices were to be complaining to other people who were there, hanging onto your frustrations and then creating the moment as a most unpleasant moment. But, still you are standing there. But, you are blaming everybody. You are blaming, “Oh, this person is very slow. How come they can’t work faster?” And, you are encouraging the people to work faster.
Where is this happening? It is not outside. It is in your head. [Things] are going too slow in your head. For the other people [doing the work] it is their normal rhythm. But, according to you, the line is too long. Maybe others may say, “Well, today the line is shorter than it was yesterday. You are a lucky person.” But, you don’t know. You are there for the first time and you are thinking, “It’s a long line!”
The second choice is, you choose to enjoy that time. Not to get involved with something that is not you [under your control]. What you can do is just be there until your time comes. So, you chose to do that yesterday. You stopped struggling with all those things and came back to yourself and began to observe.
What is happening, as a mindful person, when you happen to notice things, you begin to enjoy those things.
This is [a technique] we can apply to anything. Like when you find things going according to your rhythm, as you want, you can enjoy it by noticing that. But, when it is not happening as you want, you can still enjoy it by being there. By knowing that, “Oh, this is not in my control.” You can just be there.
When we think about our meditation practice. It is not limited to [just sitting] on the cushion. On the cushion, we are training ourselves. We are learning how to apply this to everything.
A Student Learns How to Learn by Doing Things Mindfully
There was a person who [heard] that meditation is good and that you could find a joyful mind. This person found a good teacher to go and study meditation. When this person came to the retreat center the teacher kept giving `this person different tasks to do. Cut wood, do the cooking, sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom. So many things.
Now, this person was there a week, two weeks, three weeks… and the person kept thinking, “Okay, by the end of this week, the teacher will teach me.” But, a month, two months later, this person could not handle this anymore and still, the teacher did not teach any meditation. And the teacher kept asking the person to do things.
This person approached [the teacher] and said, “I’m so disappointed in you. Now I am here almost two months and you keep asking me to do work and you are not teaching me.”
The teacher said, “Teaching is my job. But, learning is your job. As long as you are not learning, you are not allowing me to teach you. Therefore, I am waiting. Waiting until you are allowing me to teach you.
So, this man, a bright, smart man, began to think about it. Afterwards this person started to do those tasks mindfully. Then, gradually start enjoying [doing] the tasks. Finding his own rhythm and his own self while doing things.
In the end, the student approached the teacher and said, “Thank you for teaching me.”
What is happening there? The teacher was teaching how to practice mindfulness with everything that we do in day-to-day life. Even though you argue with your friend or a family member, can you argue with your family member mindfully? When you argue with your family member mindfully, you cannot lose yourself.
You will not say anything harmful to your friend or to yourself. You will speak by knowing what you are saying.
When you mow your lawn. Can you do it mindfully? When you cut trees. Can you do it mindfully? When you dress? Can you do it mindfully.
There is not any activity of moment where you cannot practice mindfulness.
Everything you are doing, you can do mindfully.
But, what is happening to us? We don’t have that training. We don’t see the value of being mindful. While we are driving we want to listen to the radio. We don’t want to just drive. While you are watching TV, maybe you want to have a conversation. But, you can’t have a conversation and watch TV.
While you are eating, you want to talk.
What is happening to us? We don’t know how to enjoy what we are doing.
Practicing meditation is training you to enjoy what you are doing. Instead, we are [finding] enjoyment by losing ourselves. While we are eating, we are losing the experience of eating by having a conversation.
You will call [on the phone] “Oh, I am bored. I can’t do this in the quiet.” That is why you are turning on your radio. You allow yourself to become lost in the radio show. That is the nature of a lost person. And, [this] encourages us to keep losing the moment.
Meditation is about stopping running away from ourselves. Stop losing [distracting] yourself, and come back to your [inner] self.
So, yes, we can practice this with any given experience. Especially practice this with something you don’t like to do. Then you will find joyfulness in that activity.
That is what meditation does. Meditation is teaching you to enjoy each moment in your life.
I hope I answered your suggestion, your question. Any thoughts, anything you want to share?
Meditation is Like a Filter – Letting Go of Impurities
Okay, let me step into another level of the same question with an example. Filtering the water. Filter any dirty water. As long as you have a good filter, you will get drinkable water. What does this filter do? It takes the minerals, iron, or whatever is not supposed to be in the drinkable water. But, when you look at water, you don’t see [the unhealthy elements]. When you look at people, you don’t see what is in those people that is not healthy or beneficial or supportive.
In order to remove those things, you need to have a good filter. Meditation practice is a filter. The most important part is, water needs to be ready to let go what it is holding. What is binding with water? If water is not ready, the filter cannot separate those [unhealthy] things from the water. [Ice cannot be filtered. It is not ready to let go of its impurities.]
What does that mean? Those things can be anger, frustration, anxiety, fear. So, you would call yourself with those things, “Oh, that is who I am. That is how I grew up. That is the way I used to live. That’s myself. I don’t like those things. This is me. Oh, I like certain things. These are my habits.” You are talking about the things that have been bonding to your [pure] self.
When you look at the water you won’t see [these imperfections]. When you look at yourself, you don’t see that you have bonded yourself with anger. I have bonded myself with the residue of anxiety, fear, frustration, whatever you have.
Letting go. That ability to let go. That is what we call mindfulness. Being a mindful person allows you to let go of the residues of your frustration, anger, whatever is there. Habits.
So, that is important to understand. The letting go part. Once you let go, the filter has to be stronger. There are sometimes we have to filter water twice. Sometimes you have to filter water three times. Sometimes people have [several] different filters for the water. The first filter is, for one thing, the second filter is for minerals, iron, whatever. The third filter is for something else.[As people] we need different types of filters to filter out anger, frustration, your habits, anxiety, fear, or the things that are coming from your family. At the end, your mind is subject to become a pure, joyful, happy mind. You have to trust the process, trust the filter.
When you go to Home Depot and buy a filter and you place the filter and then you drink the water, trusting that the filter will filter those [unpleasant] things out. How do you know? Can you see it? Most of the time you cannot see it. But, you are trusting the filter.
You are trusting your mindfulness. You are trusting the action. Then later, you will see the difference between your past self and your new self.
When you come to meditation, if you leave meditation with the same weakness, greed, or anger, then you haven’t used the filter well. Even though the filter is there, you haven’t used it. You haven’t filtered yourself through the meditation. A month later, if you are the same person, if you have the same anxiety or fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, then you are not really filtering yourself. It is important for you to be the person who is able to let go. Let go of yourself.
See yourself clearly, as a meditator. Stop justifying yourself. Stop justifying your anger. Stop justifying your behavior, your way of life. Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t have time to do those things.” That means that you are not ready to change. You are not ready to let it go.
You are enjoying the color of the water. You think you will become nobody without [those impurities]. Without that anger, anxiety, fear, sneakiness, greed. When you become the [type of] person who is able to let go, then, you are allowing this meditation to reshape yourself.
When that happens, as an observer, as a meditator, you will start to see who you are becoming. When you happen to see it, that is the moment you will begin to trust the process. That is the moment you are going to trust this filter. “Oh, this filter is really working! I have to find a stronger filter [by going] to a longer retreat.”
Just check in with yourself. What are the changes that have happened to you through your practice? How much have you overcome greed, anger, sneakiness, or frustration? How much happier are you? How much more are you trusting yourself? How well have you learned to let go?
If you see the results, then that means you are using [meditation as an effective filter].
So, when you share your experience, that means you are noticing something that you haven’t seen before. Looks like you are using the process. Using the filter.
Everybody, think about yourself, your mind, your behavior. As long as you are living in your head, trying to analyze through your head, you are going with your habits. You are not using this filter. Living in the head means you are finding ways to justify yourself, not practicing letting go.
Any questions or thoughts?
Okay, I think we can stop here today. Thank you.
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