We think that we do not have the ability to calm the madness of the mind, but the truth is there is a simple way to access stillness within the chaos.
As a meditation teacher, I am often approached by students in my classes asking me to please share with them how they can block out the noise around them. When teaching in some locations, there are many noisy distractions the students mention – from yoga studios next door playing music, to people talking in the hallway, to martial arts dojos directly above the meditation hall. The truth is, attempting to block out these noises is not at all what mediation is about. Meditation is about being aware of what is happening in this moment and in that awareness allowing things to be how they are. It’s about being present. With our presence in the present we are able to become more connected to awareness. When we try to ‘block out’ the external noises we hear we are contracting and struggling. Meditation should not be a practice of struggle. The pounding of the bag from the boxing gym next door is not a problem, until we make it one. These are the external noises. A deeper level of understanding is to apply this same knowledge to the ‘pounding of the mind’. It can be easy to relate to this concept when talking about external distractions, but it can be more difficult when we turn our focus inward. However, this is where true insight can manifest. When we try to ‘block’ our mind from thinking we go right back into practicing contraction and struggle. The mind should not be a prison. Just as you allow the external noises to be and not affect your inner peace, you can allow the ‘pounding of the mind’ to subdue. When you don’t contract to it and struggle – or feed it with attention – when you simply rest your presence and awareness on this present moment, in feeling (not thinking), then you are able to reach a level of stillness that was otherwise unavailable to you. The mind will subdue and stillness will arise. And in this stillness, you can find peace and greater insight.
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