The first time I tried to sit, I thought the book’s instructions were unreasonable. Clear my mind of thoughts? When a thought arises, let it go? Was that author crazy?
My mind was like a carnival. There must have been a thousand noisy things completing all at once for my attention. Chaos ruled in there. I’ve heard people say they counted their breaths at first, to try to get a grip on all that cacophony — I couldn’t even focus on my breath long enough to count past two.
There was a period of time when I felt enormously frustrated with my lack of progress. I’d been sitting daily for about a year, and my mind would still escape from me, go off to plan my breakfast, or to replay some TV show from the previous night. Irritation came often. I would get up and feel grumpy. Not doing this right, damn it, I would think.
But I kept on sitting. And I read, in my eclectic way, and somehow a lot of things I read at that time seemed to be pinpointing exactly what I was feeling. One text in particular (I forget which one) said something like — if you are frustrated, you’re making a mistake. If you’re dissatisfied with your practice, then that means you want something. You can’t want something. There is no goal. There is only the practice, moment by moment.
So I sat with that. I sat with wanting nothing. I sat with no goal. I stopped reading about techniques and just sat down with one direction. Right Effort, I told myself. Or, “What am I? Only don’t know.” Or, “Save all beings.” (That one is a bit more challenging.) But no counting, no special breathing, no rules. Ah, a thought. It can go. Another thought. Okay. It can go too. Ah, heck, I was away for a bit, wasn’t I? I’m here now. Here. Now. Then no thinking. And no thinking.