This is the beauty of the Buddha’s teaching. If the suffering is outside, we can never free ourselves from suffering. But because we are creating our own suffering then we can free ourselves of the suffering. Sometimes I define meditation as finding the medicine for the sickness that we create ourselves. So as we create the sickness, we have to discover the medicine.
Once we have discovered that meditation is the medicine, we have to use it, we have to apply it in everyday life. And sometimes as you know medicine can be very unpleasant, it is not always sweet, not always nice, but if you want to cure yourself, even if it is not pleasant you have to take the medicine. So these unpleasant experiences we have, physical pain, mental pain, they are unpleasant, certainly, but as I have been saying, we have to learn from them, they have to be our object of meditation.
This is one of the greatest challenges we have in everyday life: relationships. You have to have relationships with people at home, you have to have relationships with people at the place of work. We cannot move away from relationships. So let us take the case of someone in everyday life making your life miserable, creating problems for you, creating suffering for you. An interesting way of relating to such a person is to relate to that person as your teacher, as your guru. So you learn to use that person to observe your own mind, to see your own reactions to that person. Then you realise that the problem is not with that other person but how you are relating to him, how you are reacting to that person.
A problem in everyday life is our emotions, unpleasant emotions that create suffering for us, create conflict for us. So unless we are meditators we really don’t know how these emotions are created. What happens to people is that they suffer from these emotions and they don’t know why they are suffering, and so they continue to suffer in this world. So if you can understand the mechanism, the relationship, the conditions that create these emotions, how they are directly related to thoughts, then you can work with them, you make them the objects of meditation.
During the day just be aware, just be conscious: What are the thoughts that I’m having? Are they about the past? Are they about the future? Are they about me? Are they about others? From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep we have these continuous thoughts going through the mind, they never stop. So we have to make an effort to learn about these things. By learning about your thoughts you can try to understand the type of person you are, you can gain self-knowledge, self-understanding. This is very important for the meditation.
Knowing and understanding how our mind and body work is something we can do in everyday life. The things that we do habitually, mechanically, like brushing our teeth, combing our hair, dressing, all these small acts, little acts, please make an effort to do consciously, to know that you are doing them, to have your complete and full attention on them when you do those things. Whether you are at home, whether you are travelling in a car, whether you are in your place of work, just to know, just to be aware of what is going through your mind and body from moment-to-moment as far as possible. It is the only way to integrate meditation with our daily life.
Please allow the mind to do what it likes. Let any thoughts arise, thoughts about the past, thoughts about the future. And let us learn to observe the thoughts without judging them, no plus, no minus, just thoughts arising and thoughts passing away; but please be alert, awake from moment-to-moment.
Learning to make friends with our thoughts. Learning to create space for our thoughts.
There is nothing wrong with thoughts if you can be aware, if you can know what thoughts are arising and passing away.
Don’t try to stop thoughts, don’t try to control thoughts, but create space for any thought to arise. What you are learning now is to develop a non-reactive mind in relation to thoughts.
Now let us learn to make friends with the emotions that we don’t like. Please allow those emotions that you don’t like to arise and see, as with the thoughts, whether you can make friends with them, create space around them, just allow them to be there.
If you are feeling sleepy or drowsy, please open your eyes because it is very important to be alert, to be awake.
It is very important for us to learn not to push away, not to control unpleasant emotions, but to allow them to arise and to make friends with them and to create space for them. So let us learn this very important aspect.
Let us now learn to do the same in relation to unpleasant sensation. Allow the unpleasant sensations in the body to arise. What you consider as strange feelings, unusual feelings, what you consider as abnormal sensations, let them arise. It can be in any part of the body.
Can we learn to relate to these sensations without giving a minus? To relate to them as just sensations?
Thoughts, emotions, sensations, learning to see them just as they are. Learning to relate to them without a plus, without a minus.
This is learning to have loving-kindness to our thoughts, to our emotions, to our sensations. Then they don’t become problems for us. Then they become our friends. This is what we are trying to do with this meditation.
It is important to learn to avoid the two extremes. Avoid eating too much or eating too little. For meditation it is very important to know the right quantity of food. And you can only learn the right quantity of food if you can listen to the body while you are eating.
I would like to tell you how eating can be a meditation. Here again, we must make an effort to eat mindfully, to eat consciously, to be in the present as far as possible when we are eating. And please make a conscious effort to chew your food. So slowly, consciously chewing your food.
When you are eating, observe the likes and the dislikes that might have arisen in your mind. Just to know the likes and dislikes when they arise. And when there are no likes and dislikes also to know that there are no likes, no dislikes. All this can be discovered and learned only if you eat in silence.
We should learn this very important quality of forgiveness. Forgiveness to oneself and forgiveness to others, because these things have happened in the past; we cannot change the past, so why should we carry the past as a burden, an unnecessary burden which is creating suffering for us?
Please stand up slowly, knowing that you are going to stand and observing the intention to stand.
Now just feel what it is to stand. Feel the different sensations, the different movements in your body.
If you are experiencing any unpleasant sensations, painful sensations in the body, just know them and just be open to them, just say okay to them. And if you are experiencing any pleasant sensations in the body, just know that you are having pleasant sensations.
Try to feel every part of your body, the different sensations, the different movements in your body. And learn to feel friendly, gentle and kind to your body.
When thoughts come, learn to let go of them and come back to the body. Use your body to experience the present moment, the here and the now.
Learn to feel the body rather than think about the body; please see the difference. And just feel what it is to stand completely still.
Learn to gently let go of the thought and come back to your body. To be in the present with the help of your body, with the feelings, the sensations, the different movements. Finding the sensations and the feelings in the body more interesting than your thoughts.