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Christian Meier

Mind the gap. And do your best to fall into it.

Gaps fascinate me. They have a great and completely underestimated potential. They separate things, they are the space between. One could even say that it would be really difficult to distinguish anything, to say where one thing ends and another starts, without gaps. And the interesting thing about them is that they do not only separate physical objects, but also mental "objects". And that's where they become really relevant for meditation.

Maybe you know such moments. You are in the midst of a process, a chain of thoughts and actions, and suddenly there is a kind of a break. An unexpected interruption of the ongoing mental chain. And a blank appears.

Last time it happened to me when I came back from a long car drive. I parked the car in front of the house, turned off the motor - and then that blank appeared. I sat in the car seat, unable to move, gazing out of the front screen. I fell into that moment. Suddenly, there was nothing to do, to attain, to complete. Everything already seemed to be complete. Within seconds my body relaxed, and I noticed tears coming down my cheeks. Obviously tears of relieve, as all of a sudden all the pressure and "must do" fell off me. I think I sat there for maybe 5 minutes, but they felt like a little eternity.

Afterwards, I remembered a story my teacher had told us some months ago. It is about a guy who asked his teacher, how he should meditate, and the teacher answers roughly the following: "When one thought has ended, and another one has not yet appeared - do you notice that there is a gap?" "Yes." "Well, just prolong that gap." Having made those little experiences, I must say that I know hardly any meditation advice which is shorter and more to the point.

Because our problem usually is that our mind produces an unending chain of "mental objects" - mostly never ending commentaries on outer or inner events such as sensations or emotions. Thus we never get in touch with what is BEHIND the restless stream of thoughts. And that's why we hardly ever get in contact with the ACTUAL, bare experience. The actual moment. Right now, for example. Or now.

From this point of view, finding "mind gaps" and "falling into" them is one of the best things that can happen to us. And the good thing is that we can be really playful with it, watching out for gaps or creating and prolonging them intentionally. (Of course you should be careful with those experiments whilst driving on the motorway. But they can be very interesting for example during conversations. Or during cleaning, walking, ...)

So: Happy gap-finding! :)