I want to learn to meditate – specifically to quiet my mind.
I’ve tried to learn before, but I didn’t really understand myself enough back then. And contrary to what we are told: meditation is not a panacea.
Learning to meditate isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, any more than learning to run. Running is good for your health, but the unspoken assumption is that you are able to do it healthily in the first place.
Some people need rehab or physio treatment or personalised training before running can be a regular, healthy activity. Meditation is the same.
Quiet your mind
Meditation 101 is to quiet your thoughts. But some of us are intense and driven thinkers, and our intense and driven thinking often has a cause.
If you take people with PTSD or chronic anxiety and get them to quiet their thoughts, they may find it impossible. In my case I suspect my intense focus on thinking is a way of finding control and stability amidst anxiety.
Yet I want to feel the relief of a quietened mind. I want to find my mind at peace before anxiety begins and before my thoughts race to manage it.
The first step is acknowledging that my constant stream of thoughts is not the whole of my mind. In fact it’s more like the tail end where wordless insights are translated into language.
Focusing on them will bring me more of them, but they are only translations and cannot surpass the wisdom and clarity I already possess.
It’s like these blog posts: focusing on a subject enhances my clarity and insight, and rereading them may focus it even further, but I can’t learn anything new from the words themselves. It’s the focusing, not the words or the thoughts that really matter.
The front porch and the computer
I used to spend many hours at home sitting at the computer. But as I learned to feel better I noticed that it left me uncomfortable and weary to stare at the screen for so long.
I discovered I could lie on the couch and use my phone instead. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me before.
And now I’ve discovered the front porch is a really nice place to sit in the cold wind, all rugged up, with a cup of coffee and some incense burning nearby.
I’m envisaging my mind in a similar way: I’ve spent many hours focused on the part of my mind where thoughts turn into words, sifting and analysing and planning and predicting.
But that leaves me tired and uninspired. I don’t need to be there!
Quieting my mind means finding a different place to sit and focus. Somewhere more relaxed and enjoyable. Somewhere that gives me energy instead of taking it, and allows inspiration to flow.
The approach that works for me is bathing my mind in relief. That’s what letting go of thoughts feels like to me.
Posture, eyes open or shut, duration, that stuff doesn’t matter too much if I can just find the feeling of relief and immerse my mind in it to the exclusion of all worries and cares.
Feels like a good place to start. I’ll let you know how it goes!