Mudita Journal

Concentration Through Letting Go

January 25, 2007 · Filed under: Adyashanti, Meditation, Mindfulness, Mudita Forum

I just had the following exchange with a Mudita Forum member who had this question about Adyashanti’s True Meditation (previously discussed here).

Like I mentioned, my main concern was that I was having a hard time understanding how his approach would help me with my goal. I did enjoy reading his work though. I’ve always wrestled with the concept of greater concentration through letting go. How do you let go and let things just be? Is concentration not a skill? I want to give his CD a go and see what happens.

To which I replied:

If you had told me, when I was learning to ride a bike, that I’d be able to keep my balance better if I looked at the road in front of me rather than at my handlebars, I might have questioned your sanity. And yet it’s true.

There is a similar dynamic with concentration. We tend to think that we have poor concentration because we have insufficient discipline or motivation or will-power. (I can’t balance the bike because I’ve not learned to turn the handlebars fast enough!) In reality, we’re focusing too closely on the handlebars (what we think we can control) rather than the horizon (what will actually give us balance).

In the case of meditation, we have to understand that clear-mindedness, including adequate levels of concentration, is the natural state of awareness. Yet we all have mental habits — our fears and our desire to control our own mind and experiences — that upset the natural equilibrium.

And so “true meditation,” as Adyashanti calls it, requires letting go of our attempts to control the mind, so that we can learn to focus on the horizon rather than the handlebars. More literally, it means practicing our ability to observe experience without manipulation, and allowing our mind and body to respond more intuitively to our experience, without interfering constantly in our own mental processes.

In this way, we stop overcompensating (like turning the handlebars too fast) and upsetting the natural balance of our mind.

I hope this analogy helps some and makes it easier to relax into the kinds of exercises that Adyashanti provides in his audio recording. The True Meditation recording is fantastic; I can’t recommend it highly enough. My wife is already asking me to make copies to loan to her friends.

From his reply:

I played baseball my entire life. I pitched through college and played a summer of semi-pro ball. The thing that held me back from making it all the way was my head. During fielding practice I would amaze my coaches at my abilities to throw with incredible velocity. Come game time though; I’d bare down so hard I actually lost velocity and control. I was never able to break this. Had I had the explanation you just gave who knows where I’d be right now.

Good point. I’ve definitely found that the benefits of meditation, approached properly, are helpful in many areas of life.