Meditation can easily become myopic. In fact, it necessarily starts out this way. While concentration is low, attention needs to be held on very small, specific objects of focus. But in the long term, the name of the game is disidentification, which means widening attention to include the parts of ourselves that we are identified with (emotional sensations, thoughts/beliefs, etc.).

As concentration and clarity improve, a practitioner can include more and more of the periphery in awareness, both in practice and in life. As awareness becomes wider and more subtly sensitive, the practitioner is less and less likely to identify with one bit of sense experience while examining another. In the long term, he/she can experience all of life (and all of self) as a process–a flow.

The Enlightenment Trap

statue of lady with birds

One of my teachers, Shinzen Young, shared a comment that his Zen teachers used to repeat. “Today’s enlightenment is tomorrow’s mistake.”

He calls it the “enlightenment trap.” You have an insight, and walk away with expectations about the way things are/will be. The idea here is: don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t expect things to be how they’ve been. Forever newly curious. Continually letting go.

Returning From Retreat

I often have these moments after retreat where I think “it’s all fading away.”  And I might say, “no but just stop and feel and look, and it’s right there!”  Here’s the thing–the stopping, feeling and looking IS IT.  It’s not “the thing we find” when we stop and feel and look.  It’s the stopping.  It’s the feeling.  It’s relaxing fixation and coming back into the moment.  When we do that, what we find is always going to be different.