We’re constantly changing body postures because none of them are fully comfortable. Everyone knows that. But the same is applicable to states of mind. We’re constantly changing mind postures—the directions where the mind is looking—because none of the opening perspectives are fully satisfying. The inner life of a person boils down to running from one hopelessness to another many times per minute without even realizing that. And if one feels he has found a moment he would like to dwell on, he immediately runs away to jot down a poem about “Ah, linger on, moment!..”
— “The Watcher” by Victor Pelevin
You’re practicing meditation regularly, well, sort of. Anyway, you know you can easily find a comfortable posture to sit up to 30 minutes. But how about one hour? How about 10 hours per day? 10 days in a row?
It’s the hardcore meditation and it works like a clock. If you go and stay for 10 days, remarkable results are unavoidable.
And the tool which you will use (and which is not available in the short 5–10–20 min/day meditations) is pain.
For me it became obvious pretty quickly that no matter how comfortable a meditation posture is, it ends up a torture posture at the end of the hour. And what do I do when I’m being tortured? I run away or I stand and fight. None of these reactions have helped me during meditation. When I escaped into my fantasies, into my memories, into my ideas, it seemed to help: I was able to dive really deep to my past and see things I’ve never thought I can remember. I was able to envision elegant win-win solutions for tough problems in my life and was busy thinking through details. But it was not meditation anymore, it was self-deluding and self-tricking into a virtual world of not-here and not-now, an attempt to avoid the painful and boring reality which was still here waiting for me.
After 45 minutes of sitting still the pain became so intense and irritating that escaping does not help anymore. Now I’m trying to fight. I’m counting minutes. Heavily breathing. Enduring the pain. My mind is agonizing. I cannot think about anything for more than a second. Nothing can distract me from the pain anymore. This is it. The suffering.
After few days of practicing like this, using my usual patterns, enduring the pain, I’ve finally realized there is another way. And that way I supposed to learn.
Instead of escaping or fighting just be here and see what happens. Just be here and see what’s that pain you’re running away from? Where exactly is it? What does it look like, what’s its shape, intensity? When you’re staying here and just looking with calm attention you’ll see that you’re not dying. Your bones are not broken. Your ligaments are not wrenched. It’s the same healthy body as a hour before. What’s that pain then?
And suddenly I’ve realized there is no pain. It’s not that it has gone, it just was never here. There is heat instead. Or tingling. Or itching. Whatever it is, it’s just a sensation.
There is no such sensation as “pain”.
Pain is a reaction of the mind. Created by mind. Multiplied by time that the mind estimates it has to suffer.
For the mind it’s easy to endure any pain for just 5 seconds. But if the mind thinks the pain will lasts for hours, it says “no way, I give up”.
While meditating you’re learning to stay here in that moment. In that moment there is no time. Without time there is nothing to endure. Pain is impossible without time. The only place where you can avoid pain is here and now.
You can grasp that idea intellectually from reading books or articles like this. It will allow you to apply that idea to your past or to struggles of others. But that knowledge will remain within the boundaries of your mind. It will not affect what disturbs your mind. That idea will be disturbed with your mind and it will stop working when you’re suffering.
While meditating you train your mind to not react, to not create pain in response to sensations. That training goes deep in your nature. Deeper than intellectual structures operate. It becomes a reflex. It changes your reality from inside out, on ground zero level. On the level of basic perception. It’s the easiest thing to change in your world. And the only thing you have exclusive control over.
I don’t know for how long one must practice meditation daily in order to approach such deep levels of reality. 30–60 mins per day practice seems shallow and cosmetic for me. Moreover I was not able to discipline myself to meditate regularly and I’ve never held such a long streak (please share your experience if you have).
This is why I prefer hardcore meditation. 100 hours of meditation in 10 days. The bumper dose of practice that inevitably will rewire your systems no matter who you are.