Two ways to stretch

There are two ways to stretch.

One way is by feel. You reach or arch or bend or unbend until you find the position that feels right. You know by feel when you’ve unkinked the kinks and decompressed the compression.

The second way is by following instructions in a book or from a teacher. Sound unlikely? People do this all the time in yoga classes.

The reason I bring this up is because it applies to meditation.

With meditation, as with stretching, there are two ways. One way is by feel. The second way is by following instructions in books or from teachers.

With meditation, only the first way works. In order to meditate you have to notice the meditative state. You can’t create that state. It’s already there. You have to notice it. Books and teachers can’t notice it for you. You have to notice it for yourself.

Books and teachers can help by giving you pointers about what to notice — that’s what I’m trying to do here — but at the end of the day, it’s you and consciousness. (Horrors! Freddie said something dualistic! Yes, because I’m describing how it seems to you because that is your experience.) You have to do it for yourself.

By the way, noticing the meditative state is not a big deal. I just read an article that made it sound like this is a great achievement requiring decades of sadhana. This is ridiculous. Anybody can notice it in a minute. Not everyone will but everyone can. It’s right there all the time for everybody including you.

9 thoughts to “Two ways to stretch”

  1. WOW, very important point, simple but wastes a lot of time for many people as they are going by the book, by the instructions. You are right, it’s always about “how it feels” to an individual. Profound insight. Thanks!

  2. I happened to run across the following remark on Rajiv Kapur’s website. It’s relevant to what I wrote above.

    Practice must not be mechanical, or else it will dull your intellect.

    Sadhana must be dynamic. It is like flying a kite.

    The kite is your beingness, while awareness is the string you hold and which connects you to the kite.

    Sometimes you bring the beingness close to you (by pulling the string), and sometimes you let it go (transcend it by loosening the string).

    Whatever you do, you never let go of the string of awareness even once.

    1. “Practice must not be mechanical, or else it will dull your intellect.”
      I’ve for been long time suspecting this, based on what I observer on myself 🙂
      Could you elaborate more on this? What does being mechanical mean in the context of self-inquiry?
      I tried to find an answer to this in Rajiv Kapur’s book by skimming it, but failed.

      1. I think it means several different things.

        1. You have to really be aware. I’m italicizing really because the mind can imagine “I’m aware” when you really aren’t.

        2. You have to have an open-ended attitude about what you will experience.

        3. Meditation instructions are on a continuum. At one extreme, they are very precise and step-by-step. At the other extreme, somebody tells you the general idea but you have to experiment on your own to discover the exact method that works best. The closer you are to the first end of the continuum, the more mechanical. The closer to the other end, the more likely the meditation will be effective.

        I feel like I’m leaving out the most important thing but it’s not coming to mind. Maybe I’m thinking that the desired state has a kind of aliveness, kind of like the feeling you get when you put your hand on a puppy’s belly. “Oh, a living thing!” But that’s not necessarily apparent at the beginning.

        1. I’m imagining this advice (both Rajiv’s and mine) written in the style of an old text like the Ashtavakra Gita or Vijnana Bhairava:

          1. Like your hand on a puppy’s belly: The quivering, the warmth. “Oh! It’s alive!”

          2. Like a kite string tugging your hand. You tug back. The dynamic give and take. Unpredictable, surprising, never the same.

        2. I think I understand it clearly now. Moreover I suspect the difference between mechanical and aware kinds of meditation is something I experience all the time.

          Can we say, it is, in zen terms, keeping the beginner’s mind for the meditation?

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