The following text explains the typical misconceptions about meditation, as seen from Mahamudra . The listing is from "The Royal Seal of Mahamudra Vol 2" (Khamtrul 2020).
Here is an overview of the errors as listed in the quoted text, followed by a short description how to do it correctly.
All of the following errors constitute one passage in the original text.
Blanking out all perception
Some practitioners hold meditation as being solely thought-free cognizance that has blocked the entire range of perceptions from coarse to subtle, but that is a deviation into blank shamatha.
This error consists in trying to suppress perceptions of all kinds. The expression f
"from coarse to subtle" refers to the continuum of the evolution of perceptions, illustrated by Daniel P Brown like this:
Meditating in dullness
Some others desire a meditative stability of dull oblivion not embraced by awareness, and they stray into deluded stupid meditation.
This error consist in sinking into a kind of dull trance state.
Attaching to experience
There are others who, attached to such experiences as the mind’s bright clarity, vivid bliss, or utter void, hold these to be the meditation.
This error consists in confusing transitory experiences with insighthttps://www.till-gebel.com/post/draft-sam-harris-daily-meditation-2022-09-07-transitory-experience.
Using pauses between thinking
And some feel that only a blank cognizance between a past thought that has ceased and the next thought that hasn’t yet arisen is what is required, so their meditation is split into pieces.
Yet there are some who will intellectually grasp at thoughts such as “mind essence is dharmakaya,” “it’s empty,” “it’s unidentifiable.” Similarly they think in such terms as, “everything lacks true existence,” “it’s like an illusion,” “it’s like space.” Considering those beliefs to be the meditation, they fall into the extreme of conceptual fabrication.
This error consists in taking concepts "for real", instead of seeing them too as "empty". The warning refers specifically to so-called residual thoughts, ie thoughts about meditation, state or outcome.
Using ordinary thought
Some people say that whatever they think or anything that arises is of the nature of meditation, so they are carried away by ordinary thoughts and stray into insanity.
This type of meditation is probably called "non-directive meditation" in modern terminology. Indeed, modern science can confirm that non-directive meditation just leads to more mind-wandering and an up regulation of the default mode network(DMN).
Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing (Jian Xu 2014)
For the most part, the rest view thought movement as a fault and block it, and believe that meditation consists of settling by constricting that movement. By tensing thoughts and thinking, they rigidly bind themselves.
This error consists in trying to block thoughts from arising. In Mahamudra and Dzogchen, thoughts are a part of the "inseparable pair", the non-dual view of mind and event, illustrated as ocean and its waves, sun and sunrays etc. The meditator holds both sides of the pair in mind, they "meditate with the thought".
How one should meditate
In brief, whether the mind is still or moving, resting with any thought or emotion, or remaining calmly in bliss, clarity, or nonthought, whichever it may be, those who know how to sustain the coemergent innate nature of its own accord, without needing to reject, manipulate, or make corrections on precisely whatever appears, are extremely scarce.
Xu, J., & et.al. (2014). Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00086/full