According to the Buddha, the basic nature of mind can be directly experienced simply by allowing the mind to rest as it is. How do we accomplish this?
Let’s try a brief exercise in resting the mind. This is not a meditation exercise. In fact, it’s an exercise in “nonmeditation” or open awareness—a very old Buddhist practice that takes the pressure off thinking you have to achieve a goal or experience some sort of special state. In nonmeditation, we simply rest the mind without getting lost in thoughts or emotions. That is all there is to it.
First, assume a comfortable position in which your spine is straight, your body relaxed, and your eyes gently open. Once your body is positioned comfortably, allow your mind to simply rest for three minutes or so. Let your mind go, as though you’ve just finished a long and difficult task.
We’re not looking for a particular experience. We are simply resting. We are aware that we are resting. That is the key: resting in the knowing quality of awareness itself.
When the three minutes are up, ask yourself, how was that experience? Don’t judge it; don’t try to explain it. Just review what happened and how you felt. You might have experienced a brief taste of peace or openness. That’s good. Or you might have been aware of a million different thoughts, feelings, and sensations. That’s also good.
This is simple, but not easy. This is so familiar, so close, that it seems too simple to be meditation. This knowing quality of awareness is with us all the time. All we need to do is rest the mind to touch into it. Simply resting in this way is the experience of natural mind.
The only difference between nonmeditation and the ordinary, everyday process of thinking, feeling, and sensation is the application of the simple, open awareness that occurs when you allow your mind to rest simply as it is—without blocking anything, following thoughts, or becoming distracted by feelings or sensations.