Balance and Attentiveness in Meditation
- Excerpt from Balance in Meditation
by Ven. Pannyavaro
An image often used to describe the practice of
awareness is that of walking a tightrope. In order
to do so, you must necessarily pay attention to the balance.
In meditation practice, this applies especially to how
you are relating to your experience. Reaching out to
grasp the object (attaching) or pushing it away
(rejecting) are both reactions that are unbalancing.
Keeping your balance is developing a mind that does not
cling or reject, like or dislike and is without
attachment or condemnation. Equipoise and 'on-looking'
equanimity in the face of life's inevitable stress and
conflict is to practice the Buddha's "Middle Way".
Developing the ability to adjust and manage your effort
in practice is essential. A certain effort is involved
in developing moment-to-moment awareness, but it is not
the effort to attain anything in the future. The effort
is to stay in the present, within the present moment
context. Just paying attention with equanimity to what
is happening from moment-to-moment.
The Buddha gave an example of just how attentive we
should be. He told of a person who was ordered to walk
through a crowd with a water jug full to the brim
balanced on his head. Behind him walked a soldier with a
sword. If a single drop was spilled the soldier would cut
off his head! That is the quality of attention needed.
So you can be sure that the person with the jug walked
Yet, it has to be a relaxed awareness. If there is
too much force or strain the least jostling will cause
the water to spill. The person with the jug has to be
loose and rhythmic, flowing with the changing scene, yet
staying attentive in each moment.
This is the kind of care and precision we should take in
practicing insight meditation, being relaxed yet alert.
In this way, the training helps to maintain your balance
and the ability to live in harmony with others.
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