When we meditate, we let go of our present preoccupations. Normally the mind is always preoccupied with the various objects that the eye sees, the ear hears, the nose smells, the tongue tastes, and the body comes into contact with. But when we want peace of mind, we have to see these objects as coarse and gross. We try to let go of things that are gross, things that are sensual. We focus instead on things that are more refined and of more lasting value, step by step.
We keep on getting the mind to gather in stillness, keep on letting go of everything else. It’s like when we go to sleep: we have to let go of distracting thoughts, we have to stop thinking, have to cut those things away if we’re going to sleep in comfort. As long as the mind is in a turmoil over those things and can’t let them go, it won’t be able to fall asleep. It’ll have no sense of ease, won’t gain any strength. Even more so when we meditate: we have to cut away all our other preoccupations, let them all go, leaving only buddho.
Adjust your attitude so that you can find a sense of ease at the same time you’re repeating buddho to yourself. Don’t let yourself get bored or tired of the meditation. How do you develop a sense of ease? Through your conviction in what you’re doing. No matter what the job, if you can do it with a sense of conviction, a sense of respect for your work, you can keep at it continuously. Even if the sun is beating down and you’re all tired and worn out, you can keep on doing it. If you do it with a sense of desire (chanda) for the results, a sense of persistence (viriya), intentness (citta), and circumspection (vimaos), you can keep on doing it without getting tired. When you do your work with this attitude, you can keep at it always.
This is why our teachers were able to live with a sense of contentment even when they were out in the mountain wilds. They put effort into their meditation with a sense of ease and wellbeing in the peace of mind they were able to maintain through restraining the mind with mindfulness. If their hearts were already inclined to stillness and seclusion, then as soon as the mind had developed its foundation, they were able to keep it going without any difficulties. It became automatic, and they were able to experience a sense of wellbeing—the stillness, the fullness, the brightness of the mind.
So adjusting the mind properly in this way is something very important for anyone who wants peace of mind. Keep reminding yourself to develop an attitude of conviction, and this will give energy and encouragement to your efforts. If your conviction, persistence, and mindfulness are strong, you’ll be able to win out over any restless, anxious, sleepy, or lazy states of mind. You’ll be able to win out over these things through the qualities of mind you develop.
This reflection by Ajaan Suwat is from the book, Fistful of Sand, p. 52.