WAITING FOR THE MUD TO SETTLE
In theory, meditation should be easy. How hard can it be to sit, be still, and remain quiet? The reality is, meditation can be one of the most challenging activities one can attempt. Many find the act of meditating to be more frustrating that relaxing. The common myth of meditation is to find a comfortable place, sit upright with your legs crossed, and empty your mind.
Empty your mind? You may as well try shoveling snow during a blizzard.
Today, more than any other time in society, we are barraged with all manner of distractions and interruptions. There have always been friends, children, spouses, pets, responsibilities, etc., that have historically demanded our attention. Now we can add to that list, things such as; phone calls, text messages, emails, television, radio, computers, so forth and so on. Today’s society simply is not geared to allow easy opportunities for quiet time. However, this just means that now more than ever, it is vital to make the commitment to ourselves to make time to meditate.
Since I became involved heavily with meditation classes, a pattern has become evident. Our classes “compete” with others such as Zumba, Body Pump, and other faster paced, higher energy activities. I was surprised to learn that meditation classes just aren’t as desired or popular and have considerably less attendance than the busier classes. Meditation classes are also less popular than Tai Chi, which does involve movement, but at a slower more relaxed pace.
In my observations, many find it foreign and uncomfortable to be still and quiet for any length of time. Some individuals try to force it, or even fight with it, which leads to more anxiety or frustration. Frequently this leads to the person giving up because they feel like they have failed. In truth, they have actually made great progress.
Meditation is a practice. The first time you tried to ride a bicycle you probably didn’t become an immediate pro. You might have even stubbed a toe or had a fall or two. However, eventually you learned how the peddles and handles worked and how your feet and hands needed to function in order to move the bike forward and steer. In time, with practice, you got better. The same is true with meditation.
If you fight it or try to force it, you quickly discover that method doesn’t work. Maybe you find yourself squirming, antsy, and restless to move or make some noise. Either way, you have learned some important things about yourself. Any opportunity that brings about self awareness is always to be looked at as a success. That is what meditation is really about. When you are still and quiet, you allow yourself the chance to notice and listen to things external as well as within yourself.
Notice the experience of breathing in, of taking oxygen into your body and allowing the thoughts or feelings to come into your mind. Observe your thoughts and feelings as if they belonged to some else, and take them in. Pay attention to the sensation of breathing out, of releasing, of letting go. Now apply that to your thoughts and emotions, and imagine yourself letting them go.
Buddha pointed out,
“Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is.”
Keep this in mind when meditating. Release thoughts of the past, let go of the worries of the future.
Practice, take your time. Be still, be patient with yourself, and wait for your mud to settle.
Now go a step further and apply this concept to other areas of life. Because of our current state of busy distraction, our interactions with others are also affected. Evidence of this is illustrated all over various sites of social media. People seem to be more quick to react and more reactive overall. Add to that the freedom and courage associated with these interactions not being in person. People feel they can say just about anything without fear of consequence. They also appear to be quicker to take offense as well as being hastier to react defensively. This is a recipe for disaster.
When we take the time to wait for the mud to settle, often we are able to see things more clearly and perhaps with less emotion. If you ever find yourself in this situation, make the commitment to remain still and quiet. Fully digest the information at hand and reflect on the emotions or thoughts the situation has elicited in you. Once you have allowed yourself this moment of clarity, then decide how best to respond. If you witness this behavior in others, if you have the right opportunity, gently advise or guide them, be the light that illuminates others.
Our conscious brains are overtaxed, overwhelmed with all manner of input and stimulation, with little time to process this barrage of input. Many find themselves laying in bed, trying to sleep, but instead their minds are busy trying to make sense of the events of the day.
Think of muddy water, dirty, not clean, and not fit to drink. When we do not take the time to allow our mud to settle, we experience stress, physical ailments or sickness, mental and/or emotional difficulties.
Be patient, wait for your emotions to settle.
Be patient, give your mind and body a chance to rest, to settle.
Be patient, wait for situations to settle.
In time, with patience, your water will become clear. You will not only reap the rewards of this clarity, but it will benefit all who surround you as well.