2022-01-13-Satipatthana (8) Calming the Bodily Formations
3:54PM Jan 13, 2022
There is a saying, to be wise, be tranquil first. To be wise, be calm first. And I think that the middle saying is connected to the idea that if you're agit if we're agitated, or restless, it's hard for us to access our wisdom or our deeper understanding are our inner goodness that can inform how we want to live our life and such a calm at some some degree of calmness and tranquility, gives us access to different parts of our inner life than anger does, or fear does anxiety, desire. And so to part of the function of deepening this meditation practice, is not not just to become calm or tranquil for its own sake. But it's really a preparatory state, to allow for something deeper still to happen, deeper wellsprings of both wisdom and also the deeper wellsprings of meditation. The meditation is often associated with becoming calm. So whether this word should be calm, tranquil, relaxed, depends on the context depends on what is kind of most obvious, and then a given moment, there are times we're just feeling just relaxing, as really feels like that. Front and center is what we should do. Other times is to become calmer, take a few deep breaths and relax, step away from some tense situation, take 10 steps, count those 10 steps and then return just to calm down to discharge some of that tension that's build up. And, but I like this word tranquility. I don't like to use it translated as tranquilize the body. Because it's, I associate too much with something you do with animals when you, you know, euthanize them, we tranquilize them somehow, or put them to sleep even sometimes some animals, Davies tranquility darts do for for wild animals too, so they can care for them. So maybe it's unfortunate that I have those associations. But But, but tranquility is such a beautiful state to become tranquil, and exactly how it's described how it's felt from, it's probably very personal and different people experience it differently. So I feel a little shy to even suggest how it is. But to kind of give pointing the direction maybe, of how you can feel it more fully. I think of it as a glowing stillness, or as a warm coolness, warm peacefulness, or as a vibrating, stillness, and all those kinds of description. You know, I feel it's kind of spreading in parts of my body. It says a spreading feeling of tranquility. So sometimes I feel it's spreading down into my arms down towards my elbows, sometimes, kind of around the front of the ribcage. Sometimes it seems to just be kind of feels like it's pervasive. But some places it's stronger than others. And some of the places where it feels strong. Sometimes it feels like this wonderous absence, it's like this is kind of, there's nothing there except some sense of peacefulness, and somehow in the center of my chest or someplace. And so when I first started doing Vipassana practice this insight practice, partly because the way was taught and partly because of my background in Zen, I had this idea that the highest thing you could do the most meaningful way of practicing was not to try to make anything happen. But to really just show up for what's there. Just show up for what's happening. And that's a profound thing to do that absolutely so wonderful way of practicing and sooner or later when we do insight meditation. That's the name of the game. to just show up and be present for what's there.
And, but over time, I learned that there is no crime committed by being a little more actively involved in meditation, and to try to, to, to actually change your experience to within reason. And, and to be a bit more agent of change to try to make things happen. And, and the simplest things to do it is best to keep it simple is to relax, to sit down and to do some relaxation of the body, relaxation of the mind. And that's a doing, it's not just being and then to prioritize little bit certain things to be aware of. And in this breath meditation, we're teaching at the beginning of sati, Putana SUTA. There's a prioritization to feeling the breathing, and also to feel the whole body as we breathe. So first, we take time getting centered on the breathing, getting focused, getting concentrated. And that might be you know, months of practice for a beginner, just kind of learning to be centered and coming in and staying with the breath not wandering off so easily. But as, or it might be for the first 10 minutes of sitting, that just kind of gathering yourself around the breathing and keeping it really simple not trying to do much more than just kind of come back to breathing, rest and breathing get focused. But as as there's some stability happening, then to become aware of the open up the awareness of to the whole body, or to over a wider awareness, as if the breathing is like a warm, refreshing wind that is blowing through us, and allowing us to feel the different parts of our body as we breathe. And so there's a prioritization of feeling the body being grounded in the body, knowing the body and and then as the body gets more known, and some of it is just happens, if something does happen without our choosing to or making it happen, just simply settling more and more into the breathing, it tends to things relax, and the ways in which the mind is chasing experience or chasing thoughts, relaxes. And we begin to kind of have kind of a natural way of opening the awareness to the senses. And we tend meditators tend to become more embodied as they practice, especially if the breathing is with the meditations focused on the on the breathing. So whether it's a natural byproduct process, a natural byproduct of getting focused on the breathing, to feel that whole body, or at some point choosing to do that and kind of opening the awareness up. At some point, we want to start feeling the whole body more broadly. And that and that allows, as we feel more allows for this relaxation, the last step of this first exercise and helping the body become more tranquil tranquilizing the body, calming the body down and, and hear the prayer the emphasis is the body and not being too caught up or concerned with the mind yet, that comes later in the sati Putana. Practice, but now just the body, and partly that's preparing the ground for later. And it turns out, the more we can be centered and grounded in our embodied experience, the easier it is to be wise about what goes on in the mind. easier it is to observe it in a way that's meditative and helpful supportive of this path to liberation. And so to begin appreciating what it feels like to be tranquil, and to, as we go about our day, see the difference between having some modicum of calm tranquility in the body, and some and being agitated and restless in the body or tense in the body. And then and but seeing that clearly. And don't let yourself succumb to greater and greater tension. Don't give yourself over to getting more agitated in the body or more tense in the body. And, and there's all these forces you know that that we have that kind of unconscious subconscious ideas that it's important to get tense, important take care of ourselves, it's important to get, you know, and and so there's this buildup of tension that can happen sometimes over the course of the day. A lot of little movements of tension build. So the end of the day, we're exhausted
or really tense. And the idea is to is to Be careful with that. And to be able to notice a difference between when we start getting tense and agitated. And when we can be more peaceful and tranquil, then when there's a choice, Try choosing the tranquil way, the peaceful the calm way, and see whatever it needs to be done in your life, that you can do fine. From a tranquil place a peaceful, calm place, maybe you can do even better. Because if you want to be wise, be tranquil first. And if you want to be to do things well be tranquil first. I've certainly have had times where I've been worked fast, tried to do something, and it took longer to do it, because I made mistakes as I did, it went along and had to redo it. So so this idea that tranquility calm, is maybe not a way of taking care of things take care of yourselves getting things done, is not always a wise you know, policy. So to begin appreciating tranquility, valuing it, and, and for in, in the Buddhist practice, a embodied tranquility and peacefulness is the precursor, the foundation for a deep sense of happiness, not kind of an evaluative happiness, kind of, you know, I won the California Lottery. And therefore, I'm really happy, which is more of a mental, cognitive kind of happiness. But a deep settled, warm hearted, warm bodied happiness, that just glows and feel so nice to have. And the movement here of tranquility is to create the foundation for that happiness, that well being the joy. And, and so for the purpose of meditation, this this calm, this tranquility, is a foundation for the joy and the happiness that's going to come. And one of the things I've talked about yesterday and today is to take time to, to feel the impact of things, the influence of things that the after effect of things like start off yesterday with feeling the after effect of relaxation, feeling that you can also feel the after effect of tranquility. And the reason for that is that, in that tranquility, as we settle, there can be beginning to have a beginning of, of feelings of joy and delight and sense of well being that are also wonderful to feel and open up to that supports the greater tranquility. So we are allowed to work on changing our experience a little bit here in sati, Putana, most of sati Putana, most of his mindfulness practice is in fact about just being present and being aware of how things are without changing them. And there's so that's very profound thing to do. But we are also, at times allowed, encouraged in this practice, to take some agency to move our practice along in some direction, move our practice into relaxation, a calm and tranquility of body. And while we stay alert and upright, so we don't slump or kind of get to relax this wonderful combination of being alert. And being tranquil is delicious. And, but don't work on too hard. Know how to moderate, moderate, moderate your Samatar fog, follow yourself and monitor yourself so that you don't get agitated or restless, because you're trying too hard doing too much. Let your efforts become that your efforts to become become themselves. So thank you, and And so tomorrow, maybe in the next few days, we'll build on this breath meditation. That's the beginning of sati Putana to talk about how it moves into the refrain, which is the description of the deepening of the practice, and then we'll keep going. Thank you