Sometimes when we sit to meditate, the pain in our backs or legs becomes unbearable.

Sometimes a fly boldly lands on our noses. Sometimes our thoughts mercilessly bombard our minds. When we shift a little to ease the pain, it comes back later with a vengeance. When we swat the fly away, it angrily buzzes around a little before landing again. When we try to stop our thought processes, we soon find ourselves in mental turmoil.

There’s only one remedy at this point: To understand how these undesirable situations are borne from our attention, how they wouldn’t have a branch to cling to if we didn’t direct our attention toward them, and how not worrying about them will make us resistant to them.

This suggestion generally sounds impossible to my pupils. For example, his leg hurts so much that he feels it’s about to fall off, the fly on his nose keeps annoying him, and his thoughts are continually plaguing him and taking him to the brink of madness. So, what does my suggestion have to do with these “real” problems?

When they’ve tried out everything they can think of, when they realize there’s nothing left to do, they think, “It doesn’t sound plausible at all, but there’s nothing left to do other than try master Cem’s suggestion.” Something strange then happens. The leg pains suddenly dissipate. The fly finds some other object to land upon, and their thoughts become as silent as a still lake. It’s just like how children stop making a fuss when they realize no one is paying attention to them.

At this point, they can finally set off toward deeper levels of the mind and see what they really are.