Buddhist teacher Emily Hsu leads an analytical meditation that explores the inner landscape—texture—of the mind and the differences between constructive and unconstructive mental states.
(This meditation is part two of our interview with Emily Hsu)
[00:00:00] Emily Hsu: So let’s begin by sitting comfortably on a cushion or chair with our back straight and relaxed.
And bringing our awareness into our body and bringing it down, noticing where your body is touching the chair or the cushion or the floor.
Feeling the sensation of being supported by the earth, feeling stable and grounded.
Holding our attention there for some moments.
Then shifting our attention to the sensation of our breath in the nostrils. Noticing when we’re breathing in, noticing when we’re breathing out, noticing the pause in between.
Trying not to get caught up in any thoughts that arise, but bringing our attention back to the sensation of the breath again and again, in a kind and firm way.
Allowing the mind to settle.
So today I’d like to do a meditation where we explore the inner landscape of our minds, the texture of our mind, as I bring up various situations. Just notice what’s happening in the mind and noticing whether the mind is relaxed or if it’s tense.
Notice how we feel.
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to our desires being “fulfilled”
Let’s begin by bringing up a situation in which we got something small that we wanted.
Maybe we bought some gift for ourselves. Maybe we ate a satisfying meal.
Notice how that feels or how that felt at the time? Did we feel relaxed? Did we feel tense? Did we feel happy or satisfied?
How long did we feel satisfied for, if we did feel satisfied?
How long did it take before we wanted something else or we wanted it again?
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to giving to others
Then bring to mind a situation where we did something small for somebody else.
Maybe we cooked them a nice meal, bought them a little gift, gave them a ride.
Notice, how does that feel?
Did that feel good?
Did we feel tense or did we feel relaxed? Happy or unhappy?
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to desire
Then remember a time when we really badly wanted something. We didn’t get it yet, it was in the wanting stage.
Maybe we wanted a particular job. We wanted the latest smartphone or a big screen TV, or we wanted a kitchen remodel.
So remember during the wanting phase, before we get it, and notice the fabric of the mind, is it peaceful?
Or is it agitated?
Or is it spacious and relaxed?
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to love
Then bring to mind someone that we easily love. Maybe a simple relationship where our heart’s just naturally open. Maybe it’s a baby or a puppy or a kitten.
Allowing our hearts to open.
So, this isn’t a person where we have a complicated relationship, like a partner or a parent perhaps.
But just a simple, uncomplicated love warmth.
And notice the texture of our mind. Do we feel relaxed or do we feel tense? Do we feel happy or unhappy?
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to annoyance
Next, bring up a situation—without getting involved in it or choosing the most difficult situation—in which we felt annoyed with somebody, a somewhat moderate level of annoyance, and just observe that without being in it.
Notice if that felt peaceful or tense, agitated or relaxed.
Noticing the texture of the mind in relation to stress
Finally, bring to mind a situation in our lives that we find moderately stressful.
Maybe it’s a challenging situation at work or at home.
Maybe a difficult situation with a family member and just notice without being in it.
Notice how it feels.
Deleting the “me”
Then while continuing to look at the same situation, delete the “me.”
So there will still be a person sitting here but no “me.” Looking at the situation without a me in it.
The more we’re able to concentrate, without distraction, the more powerful the experience will be.
See if it changes the fabric of the mind without the “me.”
Does it relieve any tension? Does it shift anything?
Then when you’re ready, slowly come out of your meditation.
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