In my short life as a meditator I’ve noticed that when the mind finally settles down it gets into a creative mode and generates insights. The temptation is then strong to allow myself to stay with those ideas for fear of forgetting or because they appear to be more exciting that just sitting. Wouldn’ that be a waste to let those ideas show up at the door and do nothing about it? What difference would it make if I did explore those ideas during meditaiton?
Ken McLeod in the chapter on cultivating attention in Wake up to Your Life explains how we can reaffirm the old habituated patterns by succumbing to those creative insights:
“Calm and peace in the mind allow you to see things more clearly. When you sit in meditation, insights into interactions with people, business affairs, or personal problems arise spontaneously. Creative ideas and images arise from nowhere. Thoughts and thinking don’t really disturb the quality of attention. Instead of only resting with the breath, you feel that you can use meditation to be more creative, to solve problems and generate insights, and that you can do all that without disrupting attention.
You are wrong.
This is a critical point in practice. If you are to continue cultivating attention, any engagement with thinking in formal sitting practice, even the most helpful insights or creative ideas, must be regarded as a distraction. The content is not the problem. The problem is the thinking process itself. You must let go of it.
If you pursue insights and creative ideas during meditation practice, attention stops developing. You may come up with an idea for a great painting, the next great novel, or a way to end world hunger, but you won’t develop attention or open to the mystery of being. The energy of practice flows from attention in to habituated patterns. In the absence of a practice of attention, habituated patterns become more fixed than they were originally.”
Ken usually suggests to his students to set up two practice sessions, one to cultivate attention and the other to explore the creative ideas that arise.
If you are a meditator, what ideas/thoughts/experiences are the most difficult for you to let go of?