In MIDL Mindfulness Training 39 - 41/52 you learn the simple skill of allowing the deep relaxation that arises through not doing. This is a beautiful practice of sitting still and allowing you body to relax part by part. You then mentally feel this deep physical relaxation allowing it to enter your mind. This process will challenge and gradually remove defensive armours produced by your mind. Through repetition your mind will gradually allow the relaxation to access deeper levels of defencelessness until all defensive armour is removed and safety is experienced within the stillness of the mind itself. Submit Your Question
Your Question: This feels like a kind of meditation. How is it different?
Stephen Procter: The Pali word for meditation is Bhavana, which means to cultivate. Meditation is mental cultivation and in the sense of mindfulness meditation the three main factors of attention that are being cultivated are investigation, mindfulness and concentration.
Stillness meditation does not cultivate investigation, mindfulness or concentration, actually it does not cultivate anything. We allow our mind to wander, to drift, we do not develop any factors of attention in allowing stillness.
This is why it can not be regarded as meditation. Stillness arises from not doing, from not even meditating. By allowing the functions of the mind to come to an end by not adding anything to them, allowing the mind to burn itself out.
While in the beginning there is doing in regards to abandoning effort within our body, once the deep relaxation of the body is entered we take this deep relaxation as the object of awareness and allow it to enter our mind. This 'allowing' is complete 'not doing', we allow the mind to return to pure awareness; but we do so by not cultivating anything.
Your Question: I do find that sometimes my mind is calm water, sometimes it chatters but I don’t notice or pay attention, and sometimes I get lost in thinking. Is this normal?
Stephen Procter: Getting lost within thinking is normal and is nothing to be concerned about. Stillness meditation is the development of the skill of 'not doing', of not adding anything to the processes of the mind. this can be likened to allowing a fire to burn out by not adding any more fuel to it.
When relaxing down into Stillness there will be times when your mind will be still and others when it will produce restlessness; this is perfectly ok. Just allow your mind to run around the room like a hyperactive puppy until it tires itself out.
During this process you will drift in and out of thoughts, as the practice deepens the thoughts themselves will start to become less directed and more without meaning. This is the settling process. Notice that every time your mind emerges from these random thoughts, if you do not concern yourself with them, that the experience of Stillness becomes deeper in those emergence's.
Your Question: I haven't gotten to where my mind gets quiet and stays there. I have to keep remembering and coming back. No problem, I'm just saying.
Stephen Procter: Stillness meditation is different to mindfulness meditation Frank as in we do not have to notice when our attention wanders and bring it back. Stillness is experienced by not feeding the fire, learn to relax any effort or doing. In this way the fire of the mind burns up the fuel and settles in its own time. During Stillness meditation allow your mind to drift and wander, just don't add any value to it, it is as it is.
Your Question: It is hard not to fall into sleep when everything should be still and relaxed. I was searching for any kind of anchor.
Stephen Procter: The searching for an anchor will stop stillness from arising, any doing will stop this - as my teacher said to me "It doesn't need your help". In Allowing Stillness there is no anchor, this is a training in not doing - not even meditating. There is no meditation when allowing Stillness. Your only task is to step out of the way - to 'Allow' your mind to return to the heart. If there is any anchor at all it is the experience of deep relaxation.
First start off by 'Allowing' your body to deeply relax - deeply - remove all effort. When your body is completely relaxed - deeply relaxed - heavy - then the next task is to mentally feel the relaxation within your body - 'Allow' it to seep into your mind - 'Allow' yourself the permission to sink into it.
Next, 'Allow' your mind to become the experience of deep relaxation, deeply still - mind will then return to the heart - reunite - any sleepiness will fade and deep stillness and clarity will arise.