What does our mind do when it stops grasping?
It actually starts to feel, just by itself. You learn to feel by not grasping. What do you do when your mind feels dull, negative or bored? If you look at it, you can witness that there’s a grasping there, an attempt to clutch hold of something.
Then there’s the attempt to get out of it, the attempt to find a positive or happy feeling, the attempt to find a reason why that mood is there or a justification to get away from it and go somewhere else.
There’s still an inner tussle and frenzy going on. When you feel sleepy or dull there are actually plenty of things happening. There’s a whole lot of trying to find, trying to get, trying to be still or trying to wake up – a struggle, an inner conflict.
We can decide to learn to be more patient with negativity, to learn to open up to it and witness what it feels like. A dull feeling, self-pity, self- doubt, the feeling of inadequacy – what does it really feel like? We learn to feel it, to witness, to experience those feelings more deeply.
And from that feeling mode we begin to change our ways and our perceptions. It may seem a long way from kindness, but it’s the beginning of it; this is where kindness becomes a genuine thing. If it turns into self-pity, then you can see yourself trying to hold on to something again – to hold on to an idea, a hope or an expectation.
Genuine kindness comes with detachment, from the practice of meditation, and by making the mind firm. When you feel a dull or bored feeling, notice how that tends to make your whole practice very soft, woolly, casual, sloppy and uninteresting. At those times you need to use a firm posture to bring a sense of clarity towards that ‘nothing much’.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, The Most Precious Gift, (pdf) pp. 63-64.