At ease and relaxed but attentive, awake and aware with the attitude of the knower, the observer, just witness the feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories and sensations that come and go; just observe the breathing, the experience of the body sitting, and maybe the ‘sound of silence’ (the background to the sounds of the traffic). This attitude of being here and now in the present is what we call ‘cultivation’ (bhavana), which is reminding oneself that there is only the present. The body is present now ― it is ‘like this’; the breathing is now ― it is ‘like this’; the ‘sound of silence’ is ‘like this’. Be aware of your mental state, your mood ― right now. Is it happy, sad, confused, peaceful, anxious or worried? The quality of your mental state is not the issue here because you are not being the judge or owner of what is present but only the witness. Many experiences don’t really have a clear-cut quality to them, do they? You might feel confused, uncertain, anxious, a lack of clarity and a general feeling of unease, sadness or loneliness, but reflecting that ‘it is like this’ or ‘this is the way it is’ is using the thinking process not to define or judge but to point to ― ‘My mood at this moment is like this.’ By just thinking these words, you become aware of your mental state, while at the same time being aware of the body and the breath. So this is discerning rather than discriminating. It isn’t a judgemental process but an observing, a witnessing without judging anything as right, wrong, good or bad.
It takes determination to trust this kind of awareness, however, because one’s conditioning tends always to go towards being judgemental and to think in terms of, ‘I shouldn’t feel like this! I don’t know what to do! How should I meditate?’ Whatever you are feeling, however, even if you feel confused about everything, just recognize it ― ‘Confusion is like this’. Be the one that is aware, not the one that is always trying to figure things out and know everything about everything. As a human being in this position I can’t know everything about everything ― yet I can know ‘this’. Know what you can know! Recognize that knowing is ‘this’!
From Don’t Take Your Life Personally by Ajahn Sumedho.
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