The title above is my theory, at least, as discussed in my marvelously cogent, persuasive, and uplifting post "Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to become."
Well, let's make that cogent, persuasive, and uplifting to me. Who is the person I'm most concerned with making sense to.
That said, I'm always interested in learning the specifics of how other people approach meditation or some other form of spiritual practice. "Specifics," as noted in that previous writing, is the watchword.
More and more, I'm into specifics when it comes to spirituality. I've spent a lifetime floating in the philosophical, theological, and metaphysical heavens. Now, show me the meat! (or, tofu)
I still enjoy airy-fairy speculation. Heck, what would this blog be without it? Both the posts and comments would be exceedingly brief, that's for sure.
But whenever I get a new spiritual, religious, or philosophical book these days, I thumb through it right off the bat, looking for details. Especially if it deals at all with meditation.
What does the author say we (or even just he/she) should do in an attempt to understand what It Is All About?
Don't give me elevated abstractions. I want down to earth instructions. Absent that, a writing is just a bunch of speculative blah, blah, blah.
Entertaining. But not scientifically or practically persuasive.
So I figured that I should take an I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours approach. (Heck, I recall that working with a neighborhood girl when I was a preschooler, and we were both interested in figuring out the differences between males and females.)
Actually, there isn't much to add to how I described my morning meditation about two and a half years ago. I'm still into doing as little as possible, since this seems to make my meditating as unproductive as possible.
Which is my goal. (Oops... guess I haven't left behind my Protestant ethic entirely.)
The rest of my waking moments, pretty much, I'm trying to do something. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Maybe trying isn't the right word, because much of the time the doing just seems to happen on its own.
Regardless, movement -- voluntary or not -- pervades my day (and night) outside of meditation. Thus if I want to bring something new, fresh, and unexpected into my psyche during my morning meditation time, that would be...
Naturally there's plenty of mystical philosophizing supporting this simple notion to be found in writings from Rumi, Plotinus, Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, Ramana, Chuang Tzu, and many other sages.
But I prefer to leave philosophy aside when I'm unbusily engaged in nothing, which I like to call my Wu Project.
Wu, wu, wu. This Chinese word also is a sound, as all words are. I use it as a meditation mantra. I like how "wu" sounds just like "woo," as in "woo-woo," which I consider religions and metaphysical belief systems to be.
Meditation, though, isn't fantastical -- not when it is stripped of blind faith and dogmatism. The brain is real. The mind is real. What goes on in the mind/brain is real.
I don't believe that pure awareness, consciousness without any content, is possible. However, each of us certainly can become more aware of what's present in our psyche. And we have some control over the thoughts, emotions, and what not that appear in our stream of consciousness.
I enjoy settling down into what I call a "base" mental state. Eyes closed, earplugs in, I sit in my quiet, dark meditation area. I repeat my wu mantra. I don't expect anything spiritual, mystical, or magical to happen.
I simply am out to experience what it is like for me to experience as little as possible. This feels like a foundation that the rest of my much more active day is built on. Meditation seems to help me become more aware of this calm base that I can return to, more or less, when my mind gets excessively frazzled and overactive.
Today I read another chapter, "Equanimity," in Buddha's Brain, a book about neuroscience and contemplative practice. These passages resonated with my approach to meditation:
As your mind grows steadier, pay particular attention to the neutral feeling tone. Stimuli that evoke a pleasant or unpleasant feeling tone stir up more brain activity than neutral tones do, because there is more to think about and respond to. Since your brain doesn't naturally stay engaged with neutral stimuli, you must make a conscious effort to sustain attention to them.
...When you are equanimous, you don't grasp after enjoyable experiences or push against disagreeable ones. Rather, you have a kind of space around experiences -- a buffer between you and their feeling tones. This state of being is not based on standard prefrontal control of emotions, in which there is inhibition and direction of limbic activity.
Instead, with equanimity, the limbic system can fire however it "wants." The primary point of equanimity is not to reduce or channel that activation, but simply not to respond to it. This is very unusual behavior for the brain, which is designed by evolution to respond to limbic signals, particularly to pulses of pleasant and unpleasant feeling tones.
...The space of awareness allows every content of mind to be or not to be, to come and to go. Thoughts are just thoughts, sounds are just sounds, situations are just situations, and people are just being themselves.