Meditation 101 To Calm Your Mind

Take a crack at this. Shut your eyes and try to quiet your mind. Do that now, for just a moment. Then return to the page.

Did you notice that quieting your mind was not easy? Usually, when I try this, I become anxious and uncomfortable. That happens because, without the practice of dis-identifying ourselves from thought, we believe that we are our mind, so it has ultimate sway over our attention.

If you find yourself saying, “I don’t think I’m my mind,” guess who said that? Right, your mind!

Now try this. Close your eyes once again, and place all of your attention not on your thoughts but on the sensations you feel in your body. Perhaps you can rest your attention on the temperature of your hands or on the weight of your legs or on the tension in your face. Be careful not to observe emotions, but rather sensations. If you notice that you’re feeling sad, for example, go deeper into the inquiry, and study what sadness feels like.

Pay no attention to what thoughts are associated with the sadness or to the undesirability of the emotion. Just observe where sadness resides in your body. What, in fact, is sadness? Is it tightness in your face? Heaviness in your throat? Fluttering in your belly? Whatever it is, let it be. It’s entirely OK.

Study it as you imagine a scientist would study it. Try to dissect it with your consciousness. Notice how long it lasts and how it dissipates, how it goes away, with no mental effort on your part. Notice how all sensations in or on your body have this same quality. They arise, remain for a time, and then cease. Whatever you feel is OK. In fact, think of the sensations as fuel for your consciousness. What Ram Dass calls “grist for the mill.”

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