Mind and body relax

Mind and body relax (from TAN33: Then and Now (class) 00:59:34.00 - 01:04:05.00)

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Now we come to the three kinds of meditation: abiding in bliss, accumulating good qualities, and benefiting sentient beings. And again, I want you to think of this as stable attention, not as meditative concentration.

Now, the phrase that I'm grateful for here comes from Gunaratana--who's a Theravadin teacher; I think he's in Virginia. He's written a couple of books. The one I know better is Mindfulness in Plain English. And he's a wonderful meditation teacher. And he summed up this aspect of meditation practice with these words:

When the mind joins with the object of attention, mind and body relax.

It's said so simply and so clearly, I could even understand it, which is very nice. This is why I emphasize resting in the experience of breathing, because what I'm trying to do is through the instruction create the conditions so that mind joins with the experience of breathing. When that happens mind and body relax. What you're experiencing, Helena, is you relax and things open, and you just aren't quite used to that yet. But there's nothing really wrong in that, it's just different from what you're used to experiencing.

And that relaxation, when we allow it, can be quite profound. It can be so profound that any sense of self drops away which gets a little strange. In that resting, then--and this varies a great deal from person to person--you'll start to experience pleasant sensations, which can be quite explicit or quite subtle, usually first in the body and then in the mind. And people who are really able to rest experience a very, very high degree of pleasure (hence bliss) in body and mind together.

As Dezhung Rinpoche described it when he was teaching this stuff many years ago, he said, "You feel like your spine is made of gold coins stacked one on the other." You know, expressions, descriptions like that, so it can be quite dramatic. This isn't something that I have an intimate connection with, because I have certain physical problems which have made meditation difficult. This kind of stability and just deep, deep resting actually, is the major aspect of meditation that I've worked in. I've learned a lot from having to work with it.

But the feeling, that quality of pleasure or bliss just permeating mind and body, something that many, many people have described to me. And all that is, is an indication of a quiet mind. It means that your attention is stable. And that's good because it's creating the conditions, the internal conditions, for you to be able to practice. It's not an end in itself. That's very important. Some people will think, "Oh, this is great." And there's many, many stories of people confusing the quiet, blissful mind for enlightenment or being awake. And they aren?t the same at all.