Relax. Don’t struggle to direct your attention in meditation. You might fear this kind of freedom, worrying that your thoughts will do exactly what they usually do: daydream and ruminate, and question how will this be different or helpful. The answer is somewhat simple, conceptually. You will do what you usually do, but you will also trip into more satisfying states of mind without trying so much. You will likely develop more awareness of habitual patterns and this awareness itself is transformative.
You can trust your mind in meditation. This is a radical statement. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Meditation instructions are, in part, about how to restrain, train and correct the mind. Meditators are told, directly and indirectly, that the mind left to its own inclinations is naughty, even dangerous. And mental patterns are tenacious. Some of them deeply hurt us.
What reflective meditators can trust is the development of awareness and a gentle reflective inner dialogue. A trusting curiosity, rather than specific instruction helps you become more aware of what is going on in your inner world and what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing. Think about it: when you are with a trusted person, you can reveal more of yourself. Over time, you develop this trusting stance toward your own experience. You gain greater awareness of your “usual” states of mind as you reveal more of yourself to yourself in meditation. This awareness will transform usual ways of relating to these states of mind. This trusting curiosity slowly enters your life. You gain more awareness of what you are doing and saying throughout your days and the inner world you inhabit.
Over the years, while working with hundreds of meditators, I have witnessed the transformation of very painful and destructive habits. This comes from the development of gentle and curious reflection. I have also seen the development of more natural calmness and settledness in meditation, and in life. Experience has proven that this process is trustworthy, though you can’t know this until you take that leap of faith.
– Nelly Kaufer, Founder and lead teacher of Pine Street Sangha