Gen Samten once described a good way to meditate, especially on Tantra, as day-dreaming the puja (prayers). “Pushing is a samsaric mind” he’d say, and he’s so blissful he doesn’t walk he floats.
Nor has Samten-la (pictured) got it easy. He’s got epilepsy, and I remember him missing our teachers’ class because of it. But he is so remarkably wise and chilled!
This isn’t to say that we phase out while the prayers go on around us (as if ;~) rather, we relax into the prayers with a focussed and open mind. Geshe la compares it to a child at play – completely engrossed and delighted by the story unfolding around us.
But pushing is something we tend to be good at. If we try to force our mind to meditate, it gets over-exited, goes off a a tangent, and if we’re not careful we can get annoyed at ourselves for not being able to concentrate – especially if there’s a time pressure there.
Pushing gets the opposite of what we want. Our mind just kicks back against being made to meditate, and can go into a right sulk.
“Tibetan masters describe the process of meditation as being simililar to training a wild horse. If you tether it to a short rope and try to beat it into submission, you will have a very difficult time taming that horse. But if you give it a large coral to run in and approach the wild animal with kindness and love, you can ride the horse in a short a while. We have to treat ourselves very gently….relax….. don’t push yourself, your body or your mind. Whatever you do, do it for others.” – Ven. Lhundup Nyingje
This is such an important point – even if our motivation for meditation is just to have a calm, peaceful, agile mind, if it’s done with an altruistic motivation, it works 1000 times better 🙂
“Just try, don’t worry” Geshe La says this a lot. Guess he knows what worry-bods we are. And Geshe Chekawa said “Do not hope for results.” That is, if you’re expecting massive and unrealistic change all at once, you’ll be disappointed, and likely to miss the subtle deeper effects that daily meditation has. Meditation naturally pacifies our mind. This, in turn, allows us to feel happier. For me, that’s an excellent result in itself. And daily is good – just whatever you can manage, each day. Like the sea, gradually eroding our negative minds. Going at it hammer and tongs does more harm than good. It’s much more fun ~ and works better ~ if we can keep a straight back, focus, and chill with it.