Disclaimer: these are my thoughts, not necessarily the “way things are.” I hope you find them helpful; if not please don’t worry about it. Dharma talks are not explanations of what you should believe, my only purpose is to encourage your own practice.
The first time I met Ajahn Rithi at Wat Atammayatarama in Woodinville, I asked him to teach me the dharma. He said practicing the dharma is to “take care”: take care of the eyes, take care of the ears, nose, tongue, body and thoughts.
I try to remember this when I begin a sitting in meditation. For me meditation has become an act of care–moving from my negative, fearful states and their self-centeredness, to an experience where I begin to shift and to receive what the world is offering: its sounds, its pace, its lack of a center. Sitting still and accepting what comes forth. In brief I am simply becoming aware of what arises.
If I drift too far into my imagination, I prefer to come back to the present moment, such as the breath.
The trickiest state for me to see is the one where I judge my practice. For instance, I often wish my mind were calmer instead of ruminating over some incident or situation. I’m so identified with this self-criticism, that I see it as “true,” or more accurately as “me.”
Occasionally, if I’m lucky, I’m able to see that judging and criticizing myself for not being calm prevents calm from occurring.
In some Theravadin traditions there are 16 steps or points to meditation, such as knowing feelings, experiencing samadhi and so on. One time I asked Ajahn Rithi how was I supposed to know which one to do? He laughed and said, “Just be aware, all the time, wherever you are.”