Effortless Meditation

March 4, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

Peter Russell, Spirit of Now
Waking Times

You may be surprised to hear that meditation should be effortless, that no striving or concentration is needed. I know I was. When I first became interested in meditation, back in the mid-sixties, I was repeatedly told that it took great mental discipline and many years of practice. Indian teachers had likened the mind to a wagonload of restless monkeys that needed to be tied down and kept quiet.

And my experience appeared to confirm it. My mind was full of thoughts, and try as I may, I could not keep them at bay. Like many others, I naturally assumed that I was not trying hard enough; I needed greater mental discipline, not less.

Then I chanced upon Transcendental Meditation. Its teacher, the Maharishi of Beatles fame, challenged the whole notion of trying to control the mind. The monkeys, he pointed out, were wanting something–more bananas perhaps. Give them what they want and they will settle down of their own accord. So with the mind; it is restless because we are seeking something. And what is it we are seeking? In the final analysis, we all want to feel better–to be happier, more at peace, at ease, fulfilled, content. He argued that if we give the mind a taste of the inner contentment it is looking for, it will be attracted to it and begin to settle down of its own accord.

This made more sense to me than what I’d come across so far, so I learned his practice. And it worked. I found my mind becoming quiet without any effort. Indeed, as soon as I inadvertently started trying to control the process, in the hope that I could somehow help my meditation along, it did not work so well.

Now I am not suggesting that this applies to every type of meditation. Techniques designed to cultivate particular mental skills or states of mind, may well involve a degree of concentration or mental discipline. But when it comes to the basic skill of relaxing into a quieter state of mind, effort generally turns out to be counter-productive.

A quiet mind is not a state of mind to be achieved. It is the state we experience when there is nothing to be achieved. It is the mind in its natural condition, untarnished by fears and desires, and the thoughts they create. When everything is OK in our world, we feel OK inside; we are at ease.

Or rather, that is the way it should be. Yet, even when all our physical needs are met, and there is no immediate threat or danger, we seldom feel totally at ease. More often than not, the very opposite. Leave us with nothing to do, and most of us start getting bored. If someone upsets us, we may hold a grievance days, weeks, or even years later. Or we may spend hours worrying about situations that could occur, but seldom do.

Along with such feelings come an almost endless procession of thoughts. Most of them boil down to worries about how we can be more content; yet, ironically, a worried mind is, by definition, discontent. This is the sad joke about human beings. We are so busy worrying whether or not we are going to be at peace in the future, we don’t give ourselves the chance to be at peace in the present.

Given how easily such thoughts spring up, it is easy to assume they must be subdued and controlled. But that approach stems from the same belief that created them–the belief that we need to be in control of things in order to feel at ease.

Thus the advice that occurs repeatedly in a variety of meditation traditions is:

  1. When you realize you have been caught in a thought, accept the fact. Don’t judge or blame yourself. It happens, even to the most experienced meditators.
  2. Instead of following the thought, as you might in normal life, gently shift your attention back to some experience in the present moment. In TM that may be the thought of a mantra, in mindfullness the sensation of the breath, or in other practices perhaps a visual image, or a feeling of love.
  3. Let the attention rest in that experience. Don’t try to concentrate or hold it there. Ah yes, you will be sure to wander off again. But the practice is not so much learning how to stay present, but how to return to the present. If you wander off a hundred times, that is a hundred opportunities to practice gently returning your attention to the present.

Even then, trying and effort can arise in subtle ways. Maybe if I just added this or focused on that, it would be easier. Some of it is so subtle that we don’t even notice we are doing it. A faint resistance to an experience perhaps. Even a slight wanting to have a good meditation can get in the way.

Over my forty years of teaching meditation, I have found the greatest challenge for students is to let go of all effort. They can’t quite believe that they really do not need to try at all. Sometimes, even the most experienced meditators, with years of practice, may still put a slight effort or control into their practice. Once they let go completely they begin to appreciate how effortless it can be, and find themselves dropping even more easily into a state of inner silence.

Recently, I’ve been exploring ways to weed out and dissolve even the subtlest levels of wanting, effort, and expectation in meditation. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response these new approaches have received from both complete beginners and people with many years of practice, I am now making them more widely available online at http://www.peterrussell.com/meditate.

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Ideas, Inspiration, Meditation, Mind, Resources, Self

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. alex says:

    *I can absolutely resonate with the quiet ‘awareness’ in this article as TRUE…regain your own personal oasis… without the ‘contrived’ flood of this ‘connived reality’…seeking the enslavement us all.
    ..Be gentle with yourself & BE the loving & compassionate individual you were born to be…cheers

  2. halderon says:

    Of course meditation is an effort-anything worthwhile usually is. The author suggests,”that you just clear your mind, and not let thoughts intrude”Easy to say-difficult to do. If I told you not to think of a boat,what is the first thing that comes to mind-a boat? right? So can we conclude that it is indeed an effort to clear your mind,and I am not so sure that I could do it or want to do it. The constant chatter that goes on between neurons is the process that keeps us alive.Ir was this chatter that allowed us to realize that the external is really the internal-that we are what we believe and perception creates the world around us-that there is no absolute reality. That we create our own. And that took great thinking to understand. Meditation has great value, but let no one say that it is easy-it may be for some, but not for beginners like myself.

  3. I particularly liked “But the practice is not so much learning how to stay present, but how to return to the present.”
    A very perceptive article.

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

3 Astronauts Who Had Spiritual Experiences ‘Up There’

3 Astronauts Who Had Spiritual Experiences ‘Up There’













Andrei Burke, Ultra Culture
Waking Times

Several astronauts who have seen Earth from space have had profoundly awakening spiritual experiences. Here’s three of them.

Seeing Earth from space will cause you to lose your shit.

In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates said that if you could see the Earth from space, … More

July 26, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
The Awakening – Clash of Civilizations

The Awakening – Clash of Civilizations













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

Despite the furious efforts of the world’s Machiavellian destroyers, humanity is waking up. We’re seeing significant progress in exposing the ongoing brutal Gaza extermination, the mass revelation of chemtrails and other neo-scientific incursions, the disastrous effects of EMFs of every source, GMO food manipulation, … More

July 23, 2014 | By | 4 Replies More
Raw Milk Versus Pasteurized—Which Is Safer?

Raw Milk Versus Pasteurized—Which Is Safer?













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

The United States lags far behind many other nations when it comes to food safety and nutritional recommendations, and this is perhaps particularly true when it comes to raw milk.

The fact is, large dairy farmers operating under the factory farm model simply cannot produce raw … More

July 23, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Toxic Hot Seat—What You Don’t Know About Flame Retardant Chemicals Can Hurt You

Toxic Hot Seat—What You Don’t Know About Flame Retardant Chemicals Can Hurt You













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Fear of fire is primal. No one wants to burn to death. This is undoubtedly why it’s so difficult to repeal laws relating to the use of fire retardant chemicals—even though experiments show they do not work… and worse, they’re actually exposing you to … More

July 21, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Humans of Manufactured Purpose

Humans of Manufactured Purpose













Raghav Bubna, Fractal Enlightenment
Waking Times

Until we are born we don’t have any perception of existence riddling within us, we are lovingly thrust into birth by the biological frivolity of corporeal matter and witness the first moments in our life of purest expression.

As children we interact through experience … More

July 18, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Activism Works

Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project

Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

On Friday morning, Dan A. Hughes Oil Company and the Collier Resources Company agreed to terminate their lease agreement, with the exception of the Collier Hogan 20-3H well, next to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.

Hughes Oil dropped its plans to drill … More

July 14, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site

A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

Shannon Rainey lives in a house that was built on top of a Superfund site in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

“I bought my house when I was 25, and thirty years later, I still can’t get out,” she told DeSmogBlog.

Rainey’s … More

June 23, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy

Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy













Michele Simon, EcoWatch
Waking Times

The East Coast has been getting most of the attention lately on the state by state effort to label genetically-engineered food. Vermont recently passed a bill and New York State’s bill is now moving. But let’s not forget about the western states, which are also … More

June 11, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples

Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples













John Deike, EcoWatch
Waking Times

A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.

Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile … More

May 27, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply

How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

There are now many studies clearly documenting that if you eat processed foods, you’re being exposed to toxic herbicides. These toxic chemicals have been found in everything from breast milk to umbilical cords and placentas.

This of course means that children are now born with a … More

May 26, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More