Peacefulness and tranquility can be incredibly boring, and can bring up a lot of restlessness and doubt. Restlessness is a common problem because the sensory realm is a restless realm; bodies are restless and minds are restless. Conditions are changing all the time, so if you are caught up in reacting to change, you’re just restless.
Restlessness needs to be thoroughly understood for what it is; the practice is not one of just using the will to bind yourself to the meditation mat. It’s not a test of you becoming a strong person who has to conquer restlessness – that attitude just reinforces another egotistical view. But it is a matter of really investigating restlessness, noticing it and knowing it for what it is. For this we have to develop patience; it’s something we have to learn and really work with.
…I began to see for myself. I remember sitting there thinking,’ Here I am getting all upset over this. Is it that bad? What’s really bad is what I’m making out of it. What’s really miserable is my mind. Loudspeakers and noise, and distraction and sleepiness, I can put up with, but it’s that awful thing in my mind that hates it, resents it and wants to leave – that’s the real misery!’
That evening I saw what misery I could create in my mind over things that actually I could bear. I remember that as a very clear insight into what I thought was miserable, and what really is miserable. At first I was blaming the people, the loudspeakers, the disruption, the noise and the discomfort – I thought that was the problem. Then I realised that it wasn’t; it was my mind that was miserable.
If we reflect on and contemplate Dhamma, we learn from the very situations, which we like the least – if we have the will and the patience to do so.
This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, The Way It Is, pp. 56-58.