Most people are amazed to find that when they actually begin a meditation practice just how loud the voices are in their heads. Truth be told, we spend the majority of our days doing everything we can to avoid this chaos, when ironically, by not paying attention to it, we actually perpetuate the sense of unrest. The good news is that if one can weather the monkey mind storm just long enough to create an opening, a rather large payoff can begin to manifest.
John Kain pens this recent Yoga Journal post on how, if a person wants true liberation, one is obliged to listen to these multiple personalities of sorts in order to transcend them. Using a simple practice called Big Mind this is accomplished.
There’s no way around it: The way to liberation points inward through the personally mundane, profane, and sacred. All of those voices in our head—no matter how scary, boring, distasteful, lascivious, or holy—must be recognized and accepted. If we deny or repress them, they only become more distracting, and our meditation practice suffers. This does not mean that we have to let them run amok; we can develop the capacity to contain a multitude of opposing voices without buying into any of them.
We can learn to recognize and accept these voices—and get a taste of emptiness—through the simple practice of Big Mind, a technique developed by Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, abbot of the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City. The Big Mind process works within a familiar Western psychological framework, using the therapeutic tool of Voice Dialogue (created by Hal and Sidra Stone in the 1970s) while simultaneously pushing us through the door of Buddhist insight and wisdom. Big Mind uses a series of questions and answers that enable us to access and explore our different “personalities” and eventually transcend them.
Read more from Kain including how to practice the Big Mind meditation here.