Gently bring awareness to the touch of your hands, relax, and observe where habitual movements of your attention move towards in the six sense fields to observe the autonomous nature of mind constructions and insight into anatta.
To develop understanding of the anatta (not-self) nature of constructions of the mind. This is done by allowing attention to habitually move and taking interest in the connection between habitual attention and the creation and feeding of energy into mental constructions.
During this investigation your meditation object is observing where your attention moves to when it habitually scans the six sense fields. The difference here compared to the previous investigation is that instead of being interested in the habitual movements of attention, you are interested in what attention habitually moves to.
This means not only observing the habitual movement of attention but also how attention feeds energy into what it focusses on. An example is the amplification of a sound, or the ongoing nature of thinking etc.
Summary: After preparing your attention as per the instructions in Preparing Your Attention for Insight, be aware of the touch of your hands, relax your mental grip and observe whenever your attention habitually moves away from it.
1) Ground awareness within touch.
Note: For this to happen you must give up control over your attention at this point, allow samadhi to collapse. This means relaxing all effort at this point, even the effort to meditate.
2) Allow your attention to habitually wander.
Note: To develop insight is different to developing samatha, your effort is not towards stopping your attention from wandering, but rather towards noticing when it has wandered. This is a crucial difference to understand if you want to observe anatta: your mind is allowed to wander.
3) Take interest in where your attention moves to.
Note: Treat this like a game, clarifying the precise moment attention shifts and what are the habitual interests of your mind.
Observe how when your attention rests on these interests, energy feeds into them and gives them life. You can be playful with this and soften/relax that flow of energy and see what happens. Observe the autonomous nature of these mind constructs and its self-feeding nature. Observe how it is all happening by itself, without your help.
In daily life open your awareness wide, use that wide awareness as a grounding point and observe the habitual zooming in of attention, and the feeding of mental formations and its autonomous nature to clarify the perception of anatta.
You are ready to progress to Insight 06: Experience of Thinking when:
Please note that the recording and video for the practicality of instruction uses kaya-gata sati (mindfulness immersed within the body) as a foundation for enquiry for practical reasons rather than access unification or jhana.
Awareness of a thought, such as its beginning or ending, arises as a knowing. The verbalization about what is already known is a thought.
Thoughts can arise as a sight, sound, smell, taste or sensation; one of the five senses and contains all the information needed within it. For example, you can look at a flower and know that it is a flower.
You can also know if the flower is partly or fully open, tall or short. You can also know its colour and its type if you have seen it before. Knowing within itself contains no commentary - no thinking.
When you look at the flower and know it, then your mind may say, "Isn’t the flower beautiful" "I really like this flower, I wonder where I can buy one?" "I am going to pick this flower so I can bring it home and continue to enjoy it" "It is beautiful but it’s not as beautiful as the flowers in my garden".
This overlayed commentary is thinking.
This is one of the minds tasks, to verbalise the experience of the world as it enters through the five senses and give it relevance in terms of "me".
The verbalising you experienced is your mind overlaying a commentary to try to make sense of what you are experiencing in meditation - to make it relevant to you. In your practice learn to separate the "knowing" from the "commentary".
Do not concern yourself if you cannot observe the beginning and ending of thinking.
What you can observe is simply every time you become lost within thinking, observing these habitual patterns of your mind. You can also observe the uncontrollable, anatta nature of thinking and the collapse of your mindfulness when you become lost within it, this is where the insight is to be found.
The ability to observe when thinking begins will happen naturally when your mindfulness is strong enough and mental factors are in balance, it is not something that you can just do.
If the factors are not in balance, it does not matter how much effort you put in, it still won't happen. You're striving to observe thinking actually feeds it through creating energy, relax the striving. It is the continuity of mindfulness that is needed here not more effort to watch.
Whenever struggle arises within your mind observe the experience of the struggle itself. What does it feel like to struggle, to strive, to try? Use GOSS Formula to soften / relax deeply into the desire to achieve.
Learn how to soften deeply, very deeply. The very act of striving to see creates agitation which collapses tranquility, the stillness of mind. I know this because this was my weakness from which my teacher had to guide me.
Your task during these mindfulness trainings is to put in just enough effort to observe what you are experiencing now and your relationship towards it. Instead of putting emphasis on catching the beginning of each thought and not thinking, start by observing what this process is trying to teach you in terms of its uncontrollable and habitual nature.
You are following your meditation object and suddenly you notice that you are lost within thinking - don't you find that strange?
Why did your awareness of your main meditation object collapse and also your awareness that you were meditating?
These are the points to take interest in. Also start to observe the impermanence of awareness and also how you have absolutely no control over the thinking process. It is not that you are thinking your thoughts but that your thoughts are thinking you - observe this.
When you come out of a thought observe the quality of your awareness now that you are out of it, the clarity. Also reflect on the clarity of your awareness when you were lost within the thought.
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