What is beauty? Does it need to be expressed? When I meditate, I’m not expressing anything and that makes it my biggest expression. Not because I’m outwardly expressing anything, but because I’m feeling all these expressions inwardly. In stillness, all the movement moves freely. Nature is changing and it doesn’t need our two bits to go on its merry way. Any outside force breaks the continuous flow that is. Usually this outside force is our sense of “me, mine, I.” Who we think we are. To really be in a state of meditation, we can’t perceive the one who is in this state.
In a sense, meditation can be described as being in a state of being that recognizes other states of being, but does not recognize itself as a state of being. If we recognize ourselves as meditating, we’ll interrupt it. We’ll be controlling the movement, when the movement doesn’t need to be controlled. A child never thinks about playing, he just does it. When you tell him or her to go play, it makes it harder to do so, because it’s an order and a controlling of the act. The act is happening already and when we don’t control it, we feel it as play. Life is already expressed without a need for an outside force to express itself. To observe completely there must be no observer, just a watching, watching itself, so it’s truly free. A rhythm playing a rhythm. It’s like infinite layers of an onion that has no definite personality, (no me, no mine, no I,) in the centre. We will only ever be watching a change take place and it is our view upon this changing situation that is a true expression of beauty.
My perception is my art. Meditation has helped me understand how to live a life of art. Life as art, being an expression in itself. This does not mean that I don’t do art in the traditional sense. I draw, make films, play music, write, but all these things are by-products of the true art of life. When you get good at life, everything else becomes easier, because it’s all part of life. Get good at the whole and everything within the whole will naturally be better as well. When you limit your attention to breath, the weirdness of it is that you understand everything else. The limitation is an expansion. You come closer to the moment, which in turn makes you aware of what all the other moments contain. Understanding one moment with more clarity makes all of the moments clearer. All of the moments making up our life as one single changing moment.
When learning something, it is always more efficient to learn how you’re learning than to focus on only the subject itself. To make a complete act of attention, which is essentially the aim in Vipassana, is of more value than the learning of a subject matter. Attention is the mother of all subjects, with all the subject matters contained within it. When you are attentive, you can do something once and get way more out of it. You can do something a hundred times with no attention and you wouldn’t learn a thing. So it all comes back to our attention, whether it’s one subject or all of life. How do we learn? How do we stay present? Breath is a good tool, because it’s always with us, but it is just a tool and there are many.
I like to think of discipline as skill. It takes a certain level of skill to be able to do anything. Whether it’s playing hockey or looking deeply at a flower and really seeing it, you need skill. When our minds wander and we get reactive, it is important to have a set of skills readily available to bring us back to the moment and back to presence. It can take practice to develop these skills. Sometimes we need to sing, other times we need to walk to the beach or have a bath. Anything that gives you balance and a feeling of harmony is beneficial. Observe what skills work for you and when they work and use them appropriately. To be disciplined means to do what’s appropriate.
Vipassana is a good tool, or skill to have. It is universal and always with us, but it does take practice to maintain it, just like anything. As it is recommended, I personally think doing two hours a day is appropriate. It is one of the few skills I have that encompasses all of my life. Breath is always with me, but I don’t always have a pen to draw or a book to write on to express myself. Breath will be my expression as I watch it come and go. It’s a tool for every situation and therefore a good one to have in the tool box. While others may only be used when I have external things like pencils, I keep them in there for good measure.
While meditating, I understand that everything that happens has no built-in meaning. It’s changing and it’s up to me to decide whether I’m going to try and control it or simply let it be. When you’re on the bank of the river you can see the water is just moving on its own, but when you’re swimming in the middle of it you can’t see a thing. This is the art of perception. The situation is always changing so it is not the situation that brings the balance of our minds, but our perspective of it. The ability to keep our minds balanced keeps us seeing clearly on the shore, outside of the rapid river waves. Use whatever skills you’ve acquired to be on that shore. It is only our state of being that matters, not the circumstances. The mother of all states of being is a state of meditation. In attention, it doesn’t matter what happens, because you’ll see it clearly. Watch the waves pass.