The ‘monkey mind’ will struggle against the experience of meditation, especially when you first start to practise it, by throwing up all sorts of distracting thoughts, ideas, possibly even images, to prevent you from reaching or staying in mental silence. Or, after subsiding for some time, the monkey mind may try to reassert itself. It does this by producing thoughts that enter into your awareness and attempt to distract you from the state of silence. Rather than fight the mind, you should ask the energy of meditation within you — which is the power of non-mind — to assist in quieting the mind again.
This thought-stopping practice can be performed in combination with any of the other techniques described in this section. It’s very simple but can be very effective, particularly in helping to sustain the silent state.
- If thoughts (or images) bubble up into your awareness, just allow those thoughts to come and go, to move in and out of your awareness. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by them, don’t give in to the temptation to get involved in them, don’t build on them. Just let them move in and then out of your attention. Usually they will subside as the monkey mind gives up trying to distract you. Then once the mind settles again, refocus the attention at the top of the head.
- If the thoughts persist, just say silently inside ‘I forgive these thoughts’ or ‘I am not these thoughts’ or ‘Please take away these thoughts’.
- If the mind is stubborn and persists in its attempts to distract you and spoil the experience, just place the right hand on the forehead and, with your eyes closed and the attention gently directed to the top of the head, request that meditative energy within you, the power of the non-mind, using the thought-stopping affirmations from step 2.
- Then place the right hand on the top of the head, so that the centre of the palm is pressing firmly on the scalp. Allow the attention to move to that point. Raise the right hand about 10 cm above the head and allow your attention to move up with it, into the space between the hand and the top of the head. Hold the attention there, as if you were balancing a basketball or bubble at the point. Then place the right hand back on the lap, palm up, but keep your attention in that space above the head.
- See how long you can sit and stay silent inside, whenever the thoughts start to appear, repeat steps 3 and 4.