On this day in 1776 our ancestors declared their independence from the King of England. Beginning meditators often tell me that they are seeking a similar kind of independence from obsessive, habitual, and distracting thoughts. Their desire to be ‘thought-free’ is widely shared. Read what a long-time meditation teacher and author, Martine Batchelor, has to say about ‘freedom from thought’:
We have to be careful not to think that meditation is about getting rid of thoughts. On the contrary, I would say that meditation helps us to creatively engage with our thoughts and not fixate on them. When people say they cannot concentrate, I say, “No, no, no! You are concentrating—too much on any one thought!”
You can read the rest of her essay here (Tricycle magazine, Fall 2010) and also find a link to an online retreat that she led for the magazine (paywall).
What is an ‘online retreat’? Online retreat systems vary, but I think Tricycle’s retreats work like this. If you pay to participate in a month-long retreat before it starts, you can watch the video teachings given by the teacher during the month (usually 4 or 5 videos of 10-20 minutes duration), and you can ask the teacher questions during the retreat month. On the other hand, if you come along after the retreat, all you can access are the video teachings.