“If you correct your mind the rest of life will fall into place.” Lao Tzu
Today I would like to speak about something simple. So simple that many get scared of it: quieting the mind.
The way I would like to speak about it is not in a obscure and mysterious way, nor in a way that resembles a manual. I would like to speak about it in a practical way. A sort of experiment if you like.
As many of you, probably, I come from a social environment which put a huge accent on being active, on doing something, on reaching a goal out there. I have seen this way of living for most of my life really.
I have seen people not being able to relax and enjoy. Other people seemed to operate in two modalities, on or off. They were either up and active, running tirelessly after things, or they were in their off mode, too tired to do anything at all.
People who are like that, being active as much as their bodies and minds allow them to, are very often looked at with respect and admiration by those around them. In some cases, hyper-active people might also provide a sense of self-doubt in the ones that believe that there must be something out there for them too, if only they could try hard enough!
After quite some thinking I came to this conclusion: I do not believe in this story at all.
I firmly believe that the apparent tireless busyness that our world is full of is a fluff. It is a story, like many others, that we tell to convince ourselves that we have a purpose and that we are worth something.
I am not trying to judge anybody here, I have been tireless looking for goals myself for quite a long time, what I am arguing is that this way of approaching things is just a cultural trait. It is one way of seeing things which will hopefully change one day, just like self-importance.
Why can one say such a thing? Well, if you have a chance to be around somebody which operates in that state, the on and off state, just have a look at them (if you can’t see anybody in that state, then perhaps have a close look at your own behaviour). People like that might seem very inspiring an driven, and perhaps they are. However, at a closer look the restlessness become apparent.
For any completed task there seem to be another one ready on the go, without appreciation of what one has done.
Is this the only way of living? Is it the most efficient in the long run?
I recently came across a nice quote by the renowned Master Tich Nhat Hanh, which says:
“Being still is a practice of quieting body and mind. When our mind is still, we are able to see things clearly.”
Needless to say that I completely agree with this quote.
The first times I was trying to be quiet and still by myself I remember being slightly scared about it. What if all of the important things I have to do could not be done if I let go of effort for once? A terrifying idea, really.
Yet, after some initial resistance an intuition, what if those important to-do things are just an illusion? What if for each completed task a new one will arise?
What I am trying to do right now is to practice that stillness daily.
I want to look at it, savour it and let go of all the restlessness I can see arising when I embrace that stillness. The way to do that is is for me to take some five conscious minutes to look at my own seated body, feel it, relax into it, and look at the thousand wild thoughts coming up and disappearing just like clouds in the sky to then savour whatever remains.
That’s it. So simple, yet so magical.
It is an experiment that doesn’t take too much time (a few minutes really), but that takes a lot of trust.
My assumption is that the actions that will arise from this space will be truer, simpler and more focused.
I am not tying to get anything out of it, if not a different, and calmer, perception of being.
Will you join in my experiment?