Secrets of Meditation, Part 3: Watching the Mind

Picture this. You are sitting by the side of a river, simply watching the river flow. It is a slow, lazy river, but many things pass by: a piece of driftwood, a small pile of garbage, a man in a rowboat, a beer bottle or two, several rusty tin cans, a naked young woman floating on her back.

You watch this show without any judgment or opinion; you remain cool and unexcited, uninvolved. There is nothing to do, nothing to say. You simply sit silently, observing the passing parade. Detached. Watching.

Now imagine that those objects that float down the river are thoughts. You simply watch those thoughts without judgment, a passive observer. You are the Watcher; you are in that state we call meditation.

To a meditator, watching is the Golden Key. It is a knack to be learned. A great mystic once said, “Meditation cannot be taught, but it can be caught.” Once you learn the knack, you never lose it. You might forget temporarily, become distracted or caught up in your own movie, but you can always get back the knack. It’s like riding a bicycle — you can fall off, but you never forget how to ride.

Common question: If the Watcher is watching the mind, who is the Watcher? Is the Watcher merely the mind watching itself? No. The one — call it the higher self, the Being — who is conscious of the activities of the mind is definitely not the mind. To become aware of the Watcher is a major aha! — a first step toward enlightenment.

Finding this pure space we call meditation is really so simple! We are born with it. It is so innocent, so uncluttered. Meditation is our very nature. We grow the mind. The knack is a rediscovery. We just forgot the knack, because the mind is a clever biocomputer that knows how to keep us engaged and entertained. Watching is the key that opens the door to silence, peace, and awareness.

The way you sit during meditation is also of vital importance. Buddha statues show him sitting in a certain posture called the lotus position. Scientifically, this is the most restful position for the body. The spine is erect, the legs are crossed, and the hands are resting on your thighs touching each other. You should feel relaxed because gravity is working with you.

Now the body electricity starts moving in an unbroken circle, preserving energy. You — your consciousness — rests in the middle of the circle. The eyes are closed. You are breathing naturally. Again, you are sitting by the side of the river, watching the thoughts roll by.

You watch the flow of thoughts without judgment or evaluation. You do not condemn, you are indifferent, unconcerned. You have remembered the knack. Watching is easy. So easy. This is meditation.

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