As stated earlier, thoughts can make our desire to sit still quite difficult. However, noticing them and, even more importantly, the emotions that give birth to them is the key towards greater freedom. As we sit, we can easily notice how we are always chasing our tail, moved by a desire to get something other than we have now, or to get rid of something that is bothering us. The big challenge is to how to switch off this as a process and get to the root of the problem, to discover how we can stop proliferating fears and fantasies and interrupt this quality of “always moving”. To do this requires that we become skilled at noticing the key moment of “contact”- when the senses, including the mind, encounters something that moves it towards, or away from. We can notice this when we can spot a change in our interior space, when a disturbed, or restless quality takes hold – we were calm one moment, then we see something or remember something or think of something and we are disturbed. So the practice is to try to notice what it arising, meet it and disengage from it, while bringing our awareness to the process itself. We ask ourselves – “What does it feel like to want this, or to want to get rid of that”….. “How does that concretely feel in the body, or in the heart”? We practice with trying to meet this moment without the impulse to fix it, or interpret it or judge it. The traditional teaching state that this is the way to step out of the stream, by not allowing the contact to gain a footing and proliferate:
From where do the streams turn back? Where does the round no longer revolve?
Where does name-and-form cease and stop without remainder?
Where water, earth, fire and air do not gain a footing.
It is from here that the streams turn back
Here that the round no longer revolves
Here name-and-form, ceases, stops without remainder.
Connected Discourses of the Buddha, 68, 69.