Am reminded of the oft-quoted anecdote where a student goes to a Zen Master seeking an answer to the question “How to Control the Mind” and instead the master pours tea into an already filled cup and the cup simply keeps overflowing. The mind of the student is too crammed with his own thoughts and preconceived notions, represented symbolically by the overflowing cup; hence there is little room for the Master’s wisdom to flow in or possess his consciousness.
Interestingly, most minds hold a firm grip on unnecessary things. We desperately look for peace and solace – rarely do we find it. In the process of this seeking, a small percentage of populace harbors and attraction for meditation even without understanding what it entails. It is a legitimate and a positive inclination and the beginning of the journey into unraveling the puzzle of the conscious, subconscious and perhaps beyond.
The initial attempt to experiment with any system of mind training is often jarring and people tend to give up too soon. Sitting silently with eyes closed and trying to focus on the breath or a deity or a chant can typically be an exercise in idleness or distraction without any deep transformation in our attitude, lifestyle or expression. We are bound to wonder if, for restless beings, it is at all possible to focus and benefit from any meditation system. Worse we may discard mind control systems as unscientific and typify it as just another meaningless abstraction of the so-called ‘spiritualists.’
Experiencing inner silence in midst of chaos
Even though we may have tried to get a good night’s rest, we often get up in the morning with a pounding heart and a sloppy mind – experiencing myriad and conflicting emotions. Instead of sulking and wasting time, get somewhat conscious of the thought waves – the stray thoughts that rise and fall and a chain of thoughts which is more like a stream suggesting the general mental set up. If the mind is too disturbed, it makes sense for us to get busy with morning chores or go for a stroll or a walk. The principal idea is to get engaged in any simple activity to awaken and channelize our distracted energy. As we commence our morning stroll the first warmth of the morning sun greets us. We tend to spill over the mental sloth with each step and become more alert about the dynamic mental workings.
As we commence our morning stroll the first warmth of the morning sun greets us. We tend to spill over the mental sloth with each step and become more alert about the dynamic mental workings. We continue to enjoy the walk, allowing the thoughts to drift, but with a sense of awareness and consciousness. After a few minutes, we are walking, but not only walking, we become more conscious of each step and the stream of unnecessary thoughts gushing in the background of our mind. Let the thoughts persist in its turbulent journey – let the thoughts flow – do not resist. This process of observation is akin to watching the course of a boisterous mountain river. We can focus or marvel at a particular point or take an expansive view, but never dare to obstruct the same.
This simple process of observation helps us to see our traits, desires, and motivations in its infancy. The whole process is with a sense of spontaneous-fluidity, rather than any forceful volition akin to observing the tumultuous mountain river and listening to its boisterous roar. In a bit, we start experiencing a sense of calm or are abiding temporarily at least in the calm placid awareness that gives clarity, purpose and moral strength.
Deep Study & Introspection
Once we have gained a sense of calm and relaxed our senses we can pick up any inspirational writing and try to peep into the heart of the subject. We may read for a few minutes and then our thoughts are likely to trick and distract us again. Do not panic or berate yourself rather continue with a relaxed attitude to be cognizant of your thoughts and feelings. Even as you attempt to study deeply, at the back of your mind there will be layers after layers of thoughts. Continue to primarily focus on your study but a portion of your conscious attention needs to be on the subconscious ripples of thoughts and feelings in your mind.
As with deep interest and resolve we delve into the scriptural, spiritual, philosophical or poetic literature, the mind tends to unite with the words, the thoughts, and the spirit that is inherent in those words. The mind like a magnet attracts certain insight from the written words and a parallel introspection process begins at the background of the mind. This type of multitasking need not be a forceful endeavor; this is simply how a mortal mind works. We are not in a trice capable of solely and completely focusing on just one thing – that state of calm and clear consciousness may be the ideal, but not the current reality. With the current state of affairs of our mind, we need to use a simple and practical methodology to gradually transcend and evolve from a state of turbulence to a semblance of clarity.
As the consciousness gets used to deep study and humbly observes the mental processes, it by default initiates the process of discrimination thus naturally alerting the stream of thoughts and morbid attitudinal tendencies. Observation leads to discriminative wisdom and we can subtly and surely begin the process of redefining our egotistical cravings and negative aspirations. Our senses get refreshed and our cravings become refined.
There is hope for all who have an overflowing cup, let it spill over and we use this brimming and spilling as a tool of transformation, creating an empty nook or a crevice where deeper mysteries of creation and individual consciousness may be unraveled. Calmness is for all, insight is for all, no matter how unruly or restless the mind may appear at the onset.
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