We are not “away with the faeries” in meditation – we are truly and more aware of what is going on around us than most people at that moment. We are also aware of our own bodies – any tightness, any pains, where we are relaxed and where we are tense. We can adjust our bodies, again without attachment, releasing tension and the moving on to full awareness of everything.
This first phase of meditation is exceedingly important. Once we have attained a modicum of discipline, we can then open ourselves up to what is going on around us without instantly jumping into thoughts about everything we see, hear or smell. We have already modified our behavioural patterns into something much simpler, much more integrated with the world around us.
The next phase is to allow the thoughts that arise, releasing the focus on our breath and our environment. We do not become absorbed in these thoughts, however. We let them bubble up, notice them, and then without paying any more attention to them let them go. This is the key – like an angry child with a temper tantrum, the more attention we give to our thoughts, the louder they will become, until they have completely absorbed us into their own little world. We must realise that their little world doesn’t even exist – we must learn to stop living inside our heads.
Some of the thoughts that arise might be full of emotion, leading us to joyous recollections or into the pits of despair. Again, we must simply see the thoughts that arise in these first stages of meditation, and later find the space to deal with them should they need to be dealt with. The idea of mindfulness is not to push aside the feelings, not to suppress them in any way. You truly have to feel them – and with such feelings like rage, it can be difficult. But it is possible to feel these emotions without acting upon them. It’s why I haven’t murdered anyone – and I hope I never will! Because we live in honorable relationship to the world, we know that to act on certain feelings is morally unethical. We can still feel them, acknowledge them – hell, we’re only monkeys with car keys after all. We honor the feelings of our own human nature, dance with them, surrender into their flow for a time, but never ever submit, for to do could quite possibly mean our death, or the death and harm of others.