Meditate when you wander or wander when you meditate? Whether we know it or not, we wander all the time. With the tiniest bit of movement in our minds, we set up a chain of causes and conditions that come to fruition sooner or later. Our aspirations, our dreams, hopes, fears and ambitions are like ripples and then waves, that carry us to destinations that we hope to reach, or to avoid. Come what may, irrespective of our affinity for this movement, move we must. A stilling of this incessant wandering is a gift that very few acquire. Strangely, the desire and the seeking to ‘meditate’ often precludes a stilling of the mind. Why is that, one might ask! Perhaps because the very act of striving sets up a plethora of mental processes that generate hope and fear, and result in the act of stilling becoming a goal, with the expectation to achieve something or fail at it.
Stilling is a process, not a means or an end. In many ways, it is neither initiated, sustained or terminated. This is because the moment a sense of agency arises, the ‘one’ that does it, we are not still anymore! In stilling, even though it is a non conceptual state, a view could be important. This sounds contradictory given that constructs and conceptualizations likely take us away from a still abiding and reinforce a sense of agency. However, the replacement of our everyday concerns by a view that attests to the insubstantiality of that which we frequently occupy ourselves with is conducive to approaching stillness. We start with a view and then as our usual enchantments erode and lose potency, we begin to meditate as we wander!
We replace our preoccupation with things to do and goals to meet with a view which while respecting our proclivities, gently attests and affirms the foolhardiness of ascribing substance to where there is none. With the removal of the concreteness of our perceptions, matter and corporeality lose much of their solidity and what begins as a view that causes and reinforces this emphasis leads us to spend more and more time in quiet and contemplation. Time spent in reflection and meditation can be a source of great joy. With the experience of this joy comes the realization that very little is needed to access fulfillment and before we know it, we begin to meditate! How much effort is applied in bringing about this change varies. As mentioned before, the superposition of reflection and contemplation over incessant deliberation begins with a view and some effort but if this takes us from chatter to quiet, it becomes self reinforcing.
Strangely, we use agency to do away with agency. And as time progresses, even everyday deliberations become a stimulus for contemplation. The paring of life’s complexities does aid in letting go of a sense of agency, a sense of self but this does not occur in a context of rigid exclusivity but rather as a gentle sliding into an open, spontaneous and all inclusive space that is without clear definitions. With the creation of a space that is not dependant on classifying what is included, rigidly held notions about the self as well as any apparently defined external structures gradually fall away. Learnt action which might require a shift in priorities in the beginning and perhaps some effort engenders a doing away with effort. With that the struggle to fit experience into a persona lessens and we find ourselves wandering again, but now this wandering is not incongruence generating and in fact leads to a slipping into a groundless, still space that seems to be always present.
The struggle to reach a hallowed state or the need to categorize and classify or conceptualize exists perhaps but now we wander into it, and meditate when we wander!