Meditation leading to liberation can be easy and natural. As the Buddha recounted:
“I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?’ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to Awakening.’—Majjhima Nikaya 36
The Buddha had engaged in yoga and in self-mortification, but his desire for liberation from suffering was not satisfied. Then he recalled how, as a young man, he had spontaneously entered a natural state of meditative contemplation while resting in the shade of a rose-apple tree. It occurred to him that such natural meditation might be more conducive to liberation than the yogic trances or self-denial he had previously pursued. As a result, he took some food, and proceeded to the Bodhi tree where he sat naturally and easefully, with the strong intention to sit still until he penetrated the matter of suffering. The sutras recount that the next morning, upon seeing Venus rising, Gotama became the Awakened One.
The most fruitful meditation is like that of the Buddha—natural, relaxed, awake and with the intention of liberation, but at ease. The great teachers of Dzogchen, such as Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa, also taught natural meditation. In meditation, as in life, too much force, concentration or fancy technique is counter-productive. Since one’s true nature is the natural state-the default state of rest when craving is relaxed-it is not hard to understand how meditation that is natural and full of ease is the most direct path to its realization.