In the practice of meditation, many find their minds swirling with delusive thoughts at the outset; or perhaps they fall into a dazed or drowsy state, wholly unaware. This is proof that, generally speaking, their ability to cultivate meditative stillness is tentative and their conviction weak. This is also an indication that their practice of right mindfulness has been momentarily lost. Especially when the weather is in flux and, for instance, the warmth of the sun suddenly appears, or the temperature suddenly drops, the mind easily loses concentration and drifts off, becoming drowsy and filling up with delusive thoughts as soon as one begins to meditate. At this time the the power of our inherent awareness is very frail.
Whether we are sitting or walking, it is important to constantly practice using external conditions and sensations for inward reflection. This is to say that it doesn’t matter if your body is in a state of movement or stillness; all along, you have a very clear and pure mind helping to deal with all situations triggered by both body and environment. If the inherent awareness of your inner mind can observe and understand very clearly, this is also a form of correct mindfulness. If you are able to be conscious of every single act, whether static or dynamic, then over time, all of your drowsiness and disorderly thoughts will automatically be perceived the moment they arise. This is yet another kind of enlightened wisdom. So we don’t need to go out of our way to intentionally change any of our trains of thought or afflictions, as it will be ineffective to intentionally enforce any method to counteract afflictions of the body, speech or mind.
An increasing number of people are interested in whether it is possible to reduce or alleviate their delusive thoughts and afflictions by doing yoga, qigong, or meditation, only to become disappointed by the result. This is because they have failed to first establish a sound understanding of true samadhi (meditative stillness) and the correct concepts pertaining to the elimination of afflictions. So what kind of meditative stillness is free from the restrictions (imposed by the methods) of “sitting in meditation,” “practicing Chan” or “walking meditation?” How can one enter into such a state?
Actually, one can simply start from the basics. At all times and in all places, you must be unaffected by any external conditions. To accomplish this point is also a form of right concentration, since you can remain undisturbed by the differentiating mind. In the very beginning when you undertake this practice, it may be impossible to remove your differentiating mind altogether. This would be considered a kind of indefinite differentiating thought. Sometimes, a small number of people might derive certain sensory experiences from this kind of intricate differentiating mind, however it is very easy to misinterpret this state as being the experience of emptiness. If you have a firm understanding of the foundation of Mahayana, gradually with practice, you will feel your mind entering into a more tranquil state of meditative stillness. This kind of understanding is yet even more firm and concrete. A more advanced practitioner is able to constantly maintain a tranquil mind, and he will be able to see with utter clarity the appearance of his mind which has always existed within himself.
After you yourself are able to see clearly the original nature of the mind, this means you would have no need, regardless of the time or place, to resort to any method for transforming the nature of your mind, as you are already abiding in your original nature. If you continue to practice in this way, your delusive and afflictive thoughts will disappear the moment they arise. This is what it means to be certain in your practice of right concentration.