In a fast-paced, busy world, where every day gets quickly filled with activity and completing a ‘to do list,’ it’s very easy to overlook the simple joy of ‘just sitting’ in meditation and the benefits it can bring to your life. Too often we get stressed chasing our tails, taking care of business, family and other commitments, meditation then is a Time Out of the daily grind of pursuing our goals and allows the space for stillness to emerge and a chance to remember the simplicity of just being.
I would like to share some simple instructions from a Meditation Master on how to practice the art of simplicity. Dilgo Khyenste Rinpoche says:
Meditation could be said to be the Art of Simplicity: simply sitting, simply breathing and simply being.
I have found this to be a great description of meditation and one that I take to my cushion every time. Instead of making meditation another thing to do in my day, I make it a time not to do anything and remember the simplicity of just sitting. Dilgo Rinpoche goes on to say:
Meditation is one of the rare occasions when we’re not doing anything. Otherwise, we’re always doing something, we’re always thinking something, we’re always occupied. We get lost in millions of obsessions and fixations. But by meditating—by not doing anything—all these fixations are revealed and our obsessions will naturally undo themselves like a snake uncoiling itself.
Meditation can become a pursuit of unattainable goals of supreme enlightenment or relative perfection, but by just sitting and just breathing there are no more expectations or craving for any brilliant experience. Meditation can then become the expression of simplicity or as Zen Master Dogen taught—just sitting is the expression of enlightenment itself without anything else added.
As Bruce Lee says
Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
Perhaps this is something we have lost in our modern world, the ability to just sit still and be content. Without trying to achieve something or constantly improve ourselves, we can allow simplicity to emerge naturally. This is something foreign to us but it stirs an ancient reminder of the joy of just being.
I have found the meditation instructions from a Tibetan wisdom tradition called Mahamudra some of the most profound I have ever come across and it’s the simplicity of the instructions that is precisely what makes it so brilliant. Mahamudra is finding peace and stillness by letting the mind be as it is, without manipulating it or trying to change anything; the awareness of things perfect just as they are. Its a recognition that things, just as they are right now, have a certain beauty to them, no matter how chaotic or messy it all may seem.
When we let the mind be just as it is and simply sit still and breath, the joy of simplicity and authenticity easily arises. Without forcing anything, just relax and notice the ease of being in the now. The famous Chinese Philosopher Confucius once said:
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
I think the art of simplicity is allowing things to be, without manipulation or fabrication. Joy and peace can be found whenever you care to stop, be still and just take some conscious breaths. This is the way of meditation and learning to enjoy these simple things in life is truly a blessing.
To be able to savour a cup of tea, enjoy looking up at the sky or just smiling to yourself about being alive is wonderfully simple and, at the same time, totally satisfying. Keeping it simple is keeping it real.
I’ve tried to make my explanation of simplicity not too complicated because that would defeat the purpose of this article. Simplicity also implies an ability to not have to intellectually explain every single thing that happens, but instead, to accept things as they are with a sense of openness and mystery.
It is something that must be experienced rather than talked about, and often to say the words “I don’t know” is the beginning of relaxing into an innocent simplicity. Simplicity is always available when you take the time to notice the sheer openness of the present moment.
After receiving the meditation instruction I mentioned above, I asked the teacher at the seminar a complicated question about the psychological details of his instructions, and waited for his admiration in my obviously well-studied question. His reply kind of awakened something in me that I will never forget. His reply was to sing a well known Beatles song to me in his thick Tibetan accent, he sang “Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, whispering words of wisdom, let it be.”