Thoughts About Meditation

(See what I did there? ;-))

There’s a pitfall I found in my previously-discovered meditative trick: while my aim is to become unattached to the thoughts that enter my mind, it’s easy to go instead to a place of resistance–which is really just another form of attachment.

When I meditate, my goal is to clear my mind and just be present. Clearing your mind is challenging, because as soon as your mind is clear, you think “Is my mind clear?”, and then it isn’t clear anymore. I think this might be a survival mechanism. What if you stopped thinking and never started again? (Life is full of distractions and interruptions that would start you thinking again, but perhaps there’s an evolutionary advantage to having a slightly noisy mind, because you never wait for something to happen before you’re “on” and thinking.)

Sometimes I will start by “getting present”. This is an imprecise way of saying that I notice what’s actually going on around me (usually very little) and actively choosing not to think about anything except what’s going on right now. It’s easy to transition from only thinking about what’s happening right now (almost nothing), and thinking about nothing.

I set a timer for myself, so if any thought comes up about losing track of time and being late for something, I can immediately let it go. This happens a lot. I am compulsively punctual.

There’s another joke to all of this. The point is to clear the mind, but you can’t ever know your mind is clear. You can only infer that it was clear a moment ago. In the moments that it is clear, you are in a state of no-mind; and if there’s no mind, there’s nothing to know. (That is, no entity is available to perform the action of knowing that your mind is clear.) You cannot know you have a clear mind, because knowing requires that the mind not be clear. It’s a paradox. Unlike paradoxes I’ve spoken of before, this one isn’t just safe to ignore: it’s worth actively investigating, paying attention to, stretching towards.

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