Question: You talk a lot about being ‘grounded’ in the body. Can you explain what you mean by that and why you see this as so important? What is its relationship to the thinking process? Can this practice really lead to freedom? Sometimes it just doesn’t seem possible . . .
Linda: When you start to become more grounded in your body, more anchored in your body, just more here in your body, you start to see how much control the mind has over you, over your body. You start to see how little time you actually spend in your body, here, present.
Each time you move away from here into thinking, you need to bring your attention back to the body. It doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about, the subject is irrelevant – the subject is just there to catch your attention, and everyone has his or her favorite topic. You have to be ruthless with the thinking process. No matter how seductive a thought is, bring your attention back to the rise and the fall of the abdomen with the breath. Bring it back to your body. If you’re getting strong sensations in any part of your body, use that to keep you here, to keep you present. Keep coming back to the breath but don’t focus on it, don’t try to exclude anything.
You can’t stop thinking. You can’t just say, ‘I’m not going to think.’ You need to be aware of the thinking process – which is just a movement away from now, and then bring your attention back to the body. The action of bringing the attention back to the body includes the action of turning away from the thought. It’s quite a simple practice but it’s incredibly difficult when you start to do it. There will be periods when you just feel here and it will just feel amazing, and other times when it will feel almost impossible to come back.
This takes a lot of energy. There are times when you’ll just be too tired to be able to bring yourself back to where you are. But you start to see that the thinking process is a habit and to break a habit you need to practice not getting into that habit – to withdraw again and again and again. Eventually it becomes more difficult to think than not to think. You start to see how highly overrated thinking is, how unnecessary thinking is most of the time, how inefficient thinking is. You see that nothing is going to be solved by thinking.
Look at it logically. What good is it doing you thinking about something you might do in the imaginary future? You know this intellectually. You know this logically, but you need to prove it to yourself and realize in your own body, in your own psyche, that this is true.
Your mind or ego will resist this practice almost every step of the way. What you need to do is tire it out, prove to the mind that you’ll do anything to be free of it – you’ll do anything to become free.
It’s important not to see the mind as the enemy, not to see anything as an enemy, but to understand how it works, how caught up you are in your mind. Rather than blaming your mind, your thoughts, you take responsibility for how you feel.
You need to know that this is possible – it’s very possible, and I can say it’s worth every little bit of effort, every moment of suffering, to be free. You wouldn’t be doing this if there weren’t some longing in you to be free. It’s the most amazing way to live your life. In a way it’s not your life any more. It’s just life. So you’re not happy all the time or blissful all the time, sometimes maybe, but there’s this depth every moment, a depth of aliveness that is beyond description.