A few weeks I go I mentioned how Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity - the four Brahma Viharas or 'heavenly abodes' - are places we can dwell in, not just visit. This is an important thing to understand - our natural inclination is to 'visit' them when the conditions seem right - to feel love and goodwill when it is deserved, to feel joy when things are good and so on. Visiting these states is easy. Dwelling in them takes practice - which is what we do in our meditation.
Abodes are things that by definition we can 'abide' in. But we often miss that because we get wrapped up in the forms and theory of our meditation. Sometimes we need to let go of all that and, like The Dude, just 'abide.'
The 11th Century dakini Niguma beautifully described it this way:
Don't do anything whatsoever with the mind-
Abide in an authentic, natural state.
One's own mind, unwavering, is reality.
The key is to meditate like this without wavering;
Experience the great reality beyond extremes.
In a pellucid ocean,
Bubbles arise and dissolve again.
Just so, thoughts are no different from ultimate reality.
So don't find fault; remain at ease.
Whatever arises, whatever occurs,
Don't grasp - release it on the spot.
Appearances, sounds, and objects are one's own mind;
There's nothing except mind.
Mind is beyond the extremes of birth and death.
The nature of mind, awareness,
Uses the objects of the five senses, but
Does not wander from reality.
In the state of cosmic equilibrium
There is nothing to abandon or practice;
No meditation or post-meditation period. Just this.
Sometimes we try too hard, sometimes we make what is simple complex. I'm not saying this is easy - it isn't. Letting go and learning to just abide is possibly one of our biggest challenges. But a great starting place is just allowing ourselves to abide. Whether that is sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea or on the cushion meditating or walking through woods - we can all learn to dwell in in this 'authentic, natural state.'
I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that.
I have linked below a fully guided audio meditation on 'Not Trying' - the starting point of learning to abide. A few of us have committed to press 'play' at 7pm PT on Sunday 11th April - you are welcome to join us if you wish, or to incorporate it into your practice in any way that works for you.
Miranda Shaw (tr.) "Niguma: Mahamudra as Spontaneous Liberation," in Passionate Enlightenment.