General description of the basic practice
The rationale for using the practice of mind resting (in short MR) was already presented in the feuilleton “How to deal with concepts”.
Now we will discuss the practice itself. It radically it reduces the quantity and intensity of useless thoughts which cause the unnecessary effort and tiredness of our mind
A few words on the topic of “useless thinking”. We regurgitate the past, regretting that we have done something wrong or what opportunities we missed. We also fantasize about the future oscillating between fear that something undesirable may happen and hope that we can avoid it.
The thinking is a process in which the current thought causes the reaction of the dynamic energy of mind producing the next thought. Other events that may trigger thoughts are perception or a mental activity emerging from our memory. This process ends when we become aware of it or is interrupted by another perception or another mental event originating from memory.
But before it happens, this process can continue for a very long time. It is essential to realize that it requires energy and effort. We are so accustomed to it that this effort remains unnoticed until we can experience the contrast between thinking and mind resting when we suddenly feel relief, lucidity and freshness. This unconscious effort of thinking makes the mind “tired”, less suited to be creative and experience playfulness of reality, depressed, etc. In other words, this tiredness obscures the state of wisdom.
But this habitual, useless thinking often produces another, often undesirable or even dangerous effect. If the thought process encounters a concept that opposes its content, it usually produces a negative emotion, or if it, to the contrary, agrees with it, the emotion is positive.
The above description of the thought process is very simplified, but, as I mentioned earlier, this paper does not pretend to be scientific. I hope, however, that the description of thinking is sufficient to verify its main conclusions by reflecting on our personal experiences.
It is crucial to realize that thinking is a tool of the mind to be used only if needed rather than its master. However, more often, it is the reverse: the tool rules the master.
The purpose of mind resting, in its essence, is to learn how to avoid useless thinking allowing the mind to return and stay in its natural state of rest where thinking is used only when it is needed.
This approach to reduction of thinking is superficially similar to the fairly popular mindfulness practice. But this similarity is very misleading. The fundamental difference is because mindfulness practice requires effort to keep one’s mind focused while mind resting avoids this trap.
How to begin the practice of mind resting
In this section, I provide the essential instructions for the beginning and continuation of MR practice. This instruction is presented in italics.
One rests in whatever position is naturally comfortable, for example, sits on a chair, rests on a couch or even lies on the bed with open eyes. One does not focus eyesight on any object in particular, but also without the effort to avoid focusing. The body is relaxed, but no specific effort should be put to be super comfortable, without any kind f body feeling search or something of this sort. The keys to this approach are simplicity, no effort that leads to natural resting.
A few words about resting. We often associate the idea of mind resting with some form of immobility and dumbness. On the contrary, the mind in the state of rest is alert, aware and fresh. We discover the subtle aspects energies present in our body and mind, which we have not noticed before because of mental noise and effort involved with thinking.
Now back to the essential instruction written in italics:
As a result of relaxing our mind, effortless enters into the state of resting. Usually, particularly when we begin the practice, soon after, we experience arising of thoughts. As soon as we notice that you are thinking, simply recall that it is a natural manifestation of the energy of mind. This realization is sufficient to naturally and effortlessly return to the state of resting.
Independently, if we are an experienced practitioner or not, thoughts will keep arising because it is an unavoidable, natural effect of the dynamic energy of the mind. In such cases, it is important not to try to suppress or cut thoughts because that involves effort; instead, we let them naturally dissolve.
As the practice progresses, the frequency and intensity of thoughts gradually diminish, and you become more sensitive to a variety of subtle experiences happening during the state of rest. (I purposely refrain from describing them, because it may tempt you to exert an effort in order to feel the same).
Because thoughts progressively proliferate less, concepts receive less “sustenance,” and gradually become less potent. Consequently, we become less attached to them what is one of the essential purposes of this practice.
That gives more chances of wisdom to manifest. We become more aware of our situation and more able to discern what is appropriate, what to be avoided, and what is a product of the habitual patterns. At the same time, the more useful concepts that are necessary for our individual and social life, our creativity and curiosity become revitalized, getting a chance to become more noticeable.
Starting this practice seems to be easy, and fundamentally it is. However, based on personal experience, I would like to suggest that, while beginning, it is beneficial to do it in the company of someone well experienced the state of rest. For some reasons, that are not well-defined in terms of neuroscience, the presence of a person whose mind is stabilized in the state of rest, affects others. It appears like some form of synchronization happening, which is transmitted to others. However, I prefer not to speculate on this topic and leave it for future neuro-physical research to find an acceptable explanation.
Instead, please find below an embedded video of myself in the state of mind resting.
It is not an ideal way of “transmitting” this state, but since we have very little chance to be together in person in the same place, it is the best I can do. Perhaps, if there will be sufficient interest, we can do via ZOOM meeting what, at least, permits experience it in real-time.
Another benefit of the presence of a person who is experienced is the possibility to answer questions of participants concerning the practice, which, as a rule, arise. Later on, after one becomes more used to this practice, the presence of such a mentor becomes less critical, and you continue to do it on your own.
Before ending this section, a message to those of you who have been doing, or are doing, another form of mind training based on meditation. Often, in many kinds of such practices, the emphasis is put on focusing the mind on some object. It could be a physical object, breathing, some sort of visualization, reciting mantras, and so on. Not trying to put any value judgment on these approaches, I would like to stress that while practicing MR, it important not to combine it with any other forms of meditation. All of them involve one or another form of effort, and this directly contradicts the principle of mind effortlessly resting.