When you attempt to suppress emotions, thoughts, or perceptions — when you forcefully try to control them — you are chaining yourself to them. You should never try to suppress anything that arises during meditation, nor during your mindful moments during your daily life.

Instead, you must train your mind not to wander distractedly along with your emotions, or thoughts, or all the myriad of perceptions that arise throughout your day and practice sessions. You train your mind to remain with that which you are mindfully doing. In the case of meditation, your mind remains in the practice, whatever it is, regardless of whatever happens.

Of course, there are times in your normal daily life when, not having fully trained your mind, you may be distracted by some, or all, of these things and you may feel the need to try to suppress them — but remember that when you engage with them in this way you are shackling yourself to them by doing so!

Trying to suppress emotions, thoughts, and perceptions is at best nothing more than a quick fix that will return frequently to haunt you in your practice, and even worse, trying to do so is a sure way to become disenchanted with meditation.

The better way, and the one that a trained mind provides you the faculty to follow, is that you are never more than momentarily disturbed because your mind doesn’t wander, doesn’t get distracted, is totally focused as you intend to be, and is never straining — you are at ease, like an unmovable mountain. The mind thus finds great ease and calm in all that it does, and easily lets thoughts, emotions, and perceptions pass without engaging with them.

In between these two — a mind not yet trained, and one that is — you should strive to notice what is arising at all times. When distracting thoughts arise you should note them and then redirect your mind back to your desired center of focus. And it should be the same for emotions, as well as distracting perceptions.

A simple way to do this is to develop the habit of noting distracting mental events with a catch-word, such as “story.” Uttering this word to yourself inwardly breaks the train of thoughts that is noticed to be distracting your focus, and immediately allows you to turn your attention away from those thoughts and emotions.

The word “story” is fitting because that is all these mental distractions ever are — simply stories that we get caught up in. But there is nothing important going on there, and so you should move on from, rather than engage with, these distractions. The more this is practiced, the more responsive the mind becomes in recognizing the initial arising of these stories, rather than sluggishly recognizing that you have become lost in one. But irrespective of when the recognition occurs, it is in this moment of recognition that so-called “mindfulness” is attained. Paying attention being merely a concentrated perspective.

Perceptions are slightly different, in that, since they arise reflexively based upon the contingencies of evanescent circumstances outside your purview — in your environment — directing your attention to them doesn’t continue their enabling conditions, since those conditions are, again, for the most part, outside you. Instead, your attention to them always entails a train of mental activity that you can get lost in. The external circumstances giving rise to that perception may continue, or they may end, but it is the initial perception that can lead you astray.

Although perceptions do not arise in a different manner, nor in a different location, than your thoughts and emotions, they will continue to arise even if you are not paying attention to them — unlike your “inner life” — that stream of unending chatter, and concomitant emotional responses, that your distracted attention feeds. So that when your mind is keen, you are able to directly see how your lack of attention to perceptual signals often lead to a lack of consciousness of them.

The important caution that must be noted here is that we all tend to slide quickly from perceiving something to thinking about it, and then emoting upon those thoughts. Thus you must train your mind to note the “leading edge” of these thoughts as they arise, so that you can turn your attention back to that which is important at that moment, cutting off the story that is in its genesis, which would otherwise lead your mind astray.

And once this initial perspicacity is accomplished, you are ready to go even deeper, by noting the inherent structure of these perceptions themselves.

The “leading edge” of perceptions, thoughts, and emotions is an imperience that is not yet cognized, recognized, nor felt. It is different than an experience of something because experience entails the cognition of something apperceived, or the recognition of something perceived, or the lived event of some emotional response. Experiences always involve a train of mental activity that can become quite involved and intricate — in their arising, and not just their content.

This train of activity is similar to what occurs in the moment of recognition of a perception — the perception itself already being the cognition, or recognition — and thus the leading edge of the perception is the real start of the train of distracting actions of thought and emotion in relation to their apperception.

It is through developing concentration that this faculty of perspicacity grows. This is why the initial stage of any meditation practice is to develop one’s concentration. “Mindfulness” refers to the moment when you suddenly notice that your mind has wandered away from the support — commonly one’s breathing; but with the practices here, that will gradually be supplanted by the use of inner spontaneous sound.

As you develop your concentration through these moments of mindfully realizing the distraction of your mind, you will find that such thoughts and emotions quiesce on their own, rather than your having to suppress them. This is the correct way to meditate, and through that, succeed in finding the inner spontaneous sounds which become pronounced in the lull before the arising of thoughts and emotions — distractions, in other words.

No matter what our external circumstances are, and no matter what perceptions, thoughts, or emotions are present, we must always look within our mind and keep our attention focused upon that lull before the arising of anything at all, as this is the same pregnant quiescence that underlies every experience, even our stream of imperience. And it is here — our attention placed here — that we find tranquillity.

It is in this tranquillity that we are able to uncover our true mind — an all-embracing void from which all mental events and activity manifest — and thus directly intuit our true nondual reality. Pain still hurts, pleasure still feels good, and neutral experiences are still of no interest at all; yet we acquire a perspective in our being that is neither attached to the void — for what could it become attached to? — nor hindered in its tranquillity, by phenomena of any kind. Is this easy to accomplish? No, of course not. It takes concerted effort over years. Only a fool, or a fake, will try to con you into believing otherwise.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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