Letting Whatever Comes Up Come Up

Des Moines Meditation and Mindfulness Group Meditators Karen and her mom gave me permission to post the following email that Karen sent me. It illustrates the transformative effects that can result from sitting meditation and from hearing and reading about spiritual enlightenment teachings.

"Thank you for reading your essay on ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ as the dharma talk at tonight’s Meditation Group. I’d read it online many times but being present to hear it was different. It was all new again. Even more telling about the value of the talk was the fact that my mom wanted to stay for the second sitting tonight just because of what she heard. And she even asked me to print the essay out for her when we got home.

Afterwards she was like a different person - calm and content. I can count the times I’ve said my mom has been content in my whole life on one thumb :). Talking to her afterwards helped me get my head around the idea of the spaciousness that Zen folk talk about. It was something mom said about feeling, like what she found in meditation was the space to think. Sitting there in the moment, free of judgements and opinions, future worries and past regrets, you can really see and think about things in a new and useful away - things that you didn’t even know you were thinking, so deafened by the cacophony of regular thoughts.

In doing non-thinking while meditating, like the old Zen Master Yaoshan recommends, what happens is that when thoughts arise they are free to spread out and dissipate, free to dissolve. And because of that, there is a feeling of space. I now have a wide-open space in my head to think or not to think about whatever arises, during and outside of meditation, free of extrapolations for the future and recriminations from the past.

Because I know this, I always go back to my breath, knowing it’s okay to just let thoughts arise and dissolve without having to react to them. I feel weirdly secure that any epiphanies I get sitting in meditation will be there later if I’m still interested. It’s not unlike the safety net of sitting in a meditation group, where I feel I’m in a open but very secure place full of quiet, compassionate people, and I can allow whatever comes up to come up. Many thanks. Karen”