Thoughts, Born in the Mind

This mornings Meditation. Find the write-up below and also the media file for the audio recording of the session.

When we first come awake in the morning, a wonderful moment presents itself. As the conscious mind first presents itself and our awareness presents itself, there is a brief moment here where pure mind is available to us, to experience. This is pure sentience and it is the place we journey to in our meditation. So it is an opportunity to experience what this is like, to hopefully make it easier to journey to in our meditation. This is where we are going to try to go to today in our meditation.

This is such a special place. Pure mind. Pure awareness. It is like dropping into a completely open, uninformed space. It is quite blissful and is a place where we have a desire to stay. Here our conscious mind has not contaminated our view of the world with all our preconceptions, ideas, hopes, desires and prejudices. I recommend you practise with this moment. Because, just the same as when we travel a journey to a destination, if we have travelled to the destination before, even by a different route, it is much easier to find.

This really does present an opportunity to practise. In this open space we can then of course start to experience the pull of the mind back in to the fully conscious world. We can watch as it starts to assert itself and we can see the way it asserts itself. I’ve mentioned in the past that I am a terrible planner. When something distracts me in meditation it is usually ‘planning’. I start to consider things that need doing and make plans for the doing of them! This is my usual experience when I wake in the morning. My mind starts planning my day.

The process of coming back in to the world reveals how thoughts are born in the mind all the time. Firstly, every single moment, in our perception of things has two sides to it. The perceiver and the perceiving. But at the very first instance these are present together. They are not discriminated. Then, the sense of ‘me’ and ‘I’ starts to re-assert itself and we feed in the inner dimension of ‘me and the outer dimension of ‘the world’.

This is why this moment in the morning is so important to study as we tend to move through these processes a little slower. As we saw in our meditation last week, as we delve into these practices, we begin to really understand that this sense of ‘me’ is misguided. The more we struggle to find the ‘me’ that is at the centre of these thoughts, the more it evaporates. We shouldn’t however, see this as unskilful. At the moment, this is the natural evolution of the mind kicking in and grasping on to the sense of self. When we see this happening we should just take an interest and notice it arising. After all, the magic is in the noticing.

Next, we can study how the mind starts to populate our awareness with the ‘ten thousand things’ as the Chinese Chan tradition describes it. Now everything from our history banks starts to cut in. All of our habits, our prejudices, deeply held belief systems etc. We also hone in more on particular mental objects and elaborate them and by this time the mind is completely awake and off and running.

So this process and route through, from pure awareness, through the evolution of the self and on into the overlaying of the ten thousand things, can be studied and even intervened with. The key to this is that flash of sentience. That first moment before we introduce obscuring overlay and contamination. If we can keep things at this point, then we can really make progress. But to practise this will take time. It will not happen in one sitting! We need to peel away the layers of our evolved nature. But you will find little snippets of time, even early on, if you practise with this, when a deep peace comes through and you are able to stay with the meditation subject. The nuts and bolts of the practice is to really pay attention and notice the moment thoughts are born in the mind. They start off small and insignificant. Stay outside of the story that the thought represents. Notice its nature and how it is driven by habit in the mind. Use the meditation subject to then let go of the thought, dismissing it as insignificant. Practising in this way trains the subconscious mind as well as the conscious mind (although, by definition, we aren’t consciously aware of this).

The Practice of the Mindfulness of Breathing and then mind watching and studying the process of thoughts as they are born and arise in the mind.