the razor’s edge

beach sunsetToday, a friend described sitting in meditation: she can easily fall into noticing objects, or drop off to sleep–but instead, wants to remain at the margin, on what she calls the razor’s edge.

For decades, our minds were trained to jump to thoughts, feelings, sensations, or perceptions; they are an obvious resting place. If we don’t go there, sleep seems like a way out. I have slept through more meditations than I care to count.

What’s helpful for me is to get very curious about that margin my friend spoke about. It’s a lively placeless-place of non-doing–awake and transparent. Thoughts want to take charge, but if I don’t pick them up–don’t touch them at all–they sink into the background. Open clarity abounds.

Thoughts, of course, pop up again. We have found them so interesting and entertaining. Leave them alone; by now, don’t we know where they lead? In my experience, thoughts always follow the same general pattern: they lag behind present moment experience, are often repetitive and off kilter, particularly those that want to capture us in old, familiar story.

Instead of returning yet again to our oldest patterns, let’s dance on the razor’s edge.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit

chirping thoughts

chirping birdWhen I sit, allowing awareness to de-focus and spread wide, I often notice chirping thoughts. They pop up unasked for, and are often repetitive. I label them annoying.

I asked Rupert Spira about this yesterday afternoon. At the time of the meeting, a chain saw was growling steadily in the distance. He drew our attention to the sound, and pointed out that although we heard it, it held no meaning, and didn’t draw our focus. It was like wallpaper–not there to attract attention, but to serve as background.

Like many of us, our culture and my parents hammered into me that being productive and busy has value; stillness does not.

Today, as love and ease grow with simply “being aware of being aware,” chirping thoughts fall back, and delicious, open knowing fills the foreground.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit: chirping bird

making friends with thought

mindOriginally this reminder was titled “making friends with the mind.” But the mind isn’t actually a thing. We call the physical gray matter inside of our head “the brain,” but that is not what we are referring to when we speak of the mind.

So what is it? I don’t think any of us know, and yet we use the word so freely. What we call the mind seems to be the concept we have of the collection of past thoughts, memories, and feelings that we are responding to in the present moment. We think this response happens in the so-called non-existent mind.

The real issue is our relationship to thoughts. You may hear some non-dual teachers disparage thought, or talk about thoughts in a way that leads you to believe that you should discredit all of them–that somehow thinking is bad.

But it is important to make friends with our thoughts. Unless we honestly and truly learn how thoughts serve, and what they can and cannot do—in other words, befriend them—we won’t be able to place them in their proper context.

Thoughts are very, very powerful. They can easily, and generally do, rule our lives. They are responses that lag just behind the present moment, grasping or rejecting what just occurred. Either we want more of that experience, or much less—if it was unpleasant—so the mind sets about plotting how to make our preference happen in an imaginary future. Hence, most of them are meaningless—not belittlement, just fact. Chewing on what might or might not happen in an illusory future might be fun, or anxiety-ridden, but not meaningful.

It takes some thinking to navigate life successfully: make appointments on time, catch an airplane, cross at a crosswalk—with the light—so we aren’t mowed down. But be honest with yourself about the main content of your thoughts. Consider how much energy your preferencing thoughts take. For some people, these thoughts eat up night upon night of sleep.

Only a tiny percentage of thinking has any real usefulness. When this is clearly seen, thoughts become far less compelling, and occur less rapidly. Because we are not fighting them, or making them wrong—which seems to aggravate their speed—they can take their place in the natural order of things—useful when required, but not needed in many moments.

This opens up space. The space, the alive emptiness between thoughts—that’s where our direct contact with life actually happens. Out of that space, life can unfold and take care of itself, can respond efficiently and clearly—not to what we think about what is happening—but to the actual living, moving, breathing occurrence.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
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