Here’s a (deceptively) simple meditation exercise based on Part One of the Hsin Hsin Ming.
Find a quiet place to sit and get comfy. But not too comfy. Neither slouching nor sitting up too straight. Once you’ve settled in, feel free to relax for a few minutes using whatever relaxation exercise works for you.
Now, we’re turning our attention to thinking. Not thoughts per se—thinking. Relaxed, we just rest and observe our thought processes. Next, be mindful of the tendency to pull pleasant thoughts toward you—to hang onto them—and push unpleasant thoughts away. I’m not asking you put any effort into stopping that tendency; just be aware of it when it happens.
There’s no need to push away pushing and pulling. That just fucks everything up even more. And we don’t need to push it away. When we’re aware of this habit, it starts to unbind on its own, like trying to shine a light on shadows.
Once we’ve settled into the method and that tendency to push and pull starts to ease, our second habit of considering thoughts to be good or bad will also start to ease. “I hate everything and wish I was dead,” isn’t bad, it’s just a thought. “I love everything and everyone and feel great,” isn’t good, it’s just a thought.
Good and bad are just judgments based on feelings. Judgments are just judgments, feelings are just feelings. When these three things get lumped together, that’s when we buy into our own bullshit and get swept up by the current of our mental processes. Fixation is thinking about thoughts, it’s caused by that pushing and pulling. You can see that clearly once it subsides.
Suddenly, everything might seem to flow. That’s not anything new, it was already flowing. Odds are this’ll feel great, you’ll consider it good and then try to pull it toward you which interrupts the whole thing. But that’s okay, there’s no need for an avalanche. If you do pull that experience toward you, don’t push away that pulling. Just stick with the method.
This is different than other types of meditation because we’re not intent on leaving the world behind. It’s very ordinary and down-to-earth. As a single sit, it might help ease anxiety and obsessive thinking, but its real value is in making it into a lifestyle.
Throughout the day, we can just embody our bodies and be mindful of pushing and pulling. That’s where the magic really happens. This doesn’t satisfy that deep urge to bliss out and trip the life fantastic, but over time it softens that urge until ordinary life is tripping the life fantastic.