I really love it when you ask me, ‘Is it difficult to still the mind?’. Because tucked within it is a belief. One that often has some deciding that meditation can’t possibly be for them because they can’t do it.
“Still the mind”.
“In order to meditate I must be able to still my mind”.
So, I want to offer you two answers so you can see a fresh perspective to the question.
Let’s start with Yes.
Many believe that the purpose of meditation is to have no thoughts. None. That the way they’ll know they are “getting it right” (yep there’s another one of the those beliefs lurking) is when they close their eyes and all they experience is space. Calm, uninterrupted space. Not a single thought passing by interrupting the show.
They hear words like stillness and tune into the idea that stillness means there’s nothing there. And so any interruption to that cant be right. Which then becomes annoying or frustrating.
Because in their mind (notice that, in their mind) it’s proof that something is “off”.
And that one thought, the idea of what it “should” be like, keeps the “end goal” of a still mind another heartbeat away.
This one belief has even “seasoned” meditators show up to their practice with a heaviness, a sense of forlornness on occasion.
Why? Because their mind isn’t still. Yet.
Maybe one day… It becomes like Whack-A-Mole, the children’s game where little plastic heads keep popping up and our job is to whack them down. There’s a moment of peace when they all disappear. You breathe. All is well in the “world”. We have a sense we have won. We are complete. It’s peaceful.
And the blighters start again.
It’s not even a nano second and we’re off. Deep sigh.
If we see or rather believe that the Game, the ultimate aim of our meditation practice, is to stop the constant stream then yep I’d say it could well be hard.
(Given we have over 90000 thoughts a day, many might agree it’s actually impossible).
Especially given that we don’t choose to have thoughts. They just show up. Uninvited.
Many might even be unwelcome.
Don’t believe me? Try it.
Decide that for the rest of the day you’re not going to choose to have thoughts. None at all. Just for today.
Give yourself full permission to have them tomorrow, but not today. And they won’t show up right? Because YOU decided. Call it an experiment. A thought holiday. A mini break from Thoughts.
I’m guessing that if you even take a couple of minutes and sit, just watching – you’ll swiftly become aware that the wee voice in your head, the commentator, already has something to say. Funny given you didn’t choose it.
Pesky thought. Worse still? Thoughts. What is going on?
We’re in an experiment. No need for despair or self attack.
Let’s simply declare that, just for now maybe it is hard to still the mind. To stop it working. To stop thoughts arriving. Because it seems, they just Do.
Like a river passing by. We can say “STOP”. We can even shout or dance or have a hissy fit. Stand in its middle, hands out like a mini dam. Warrior pose.
And still I’m guessing the river won’t mind. It won’t actually care at all. It will merrily flow through. Flow around. And get on with it’s day. Done. No stillness happening here.
So let’s explore something else.
What if we didn’t care?
What if we didn’t care if our mind was still?
Take a deep breath if you need to. It’s “out there” I know. Many have spent so long thinking thoughts shouldn’t be happening that to even entertain the idea (which you do see is another thought right? Oops #sorrynotsorry) that it might actually matter or even be “a thing” might blow your Mind…
Think about one of those fun snow globes. We shake it and all you can see is white floaty pieces whizzing around. We know there’s likely to be something in the middle.
Maybe a Santa. A cute wee cottage. The lottery numbers. The secret to life. Something.
For now though there’s just randomness. No order. Not even a beautiful pattern. Just stuff.
So we wait. And we watch.
We don’t put our attention on the bits. We don’t say “Mr Snow Globe you’re not working!
You bad Globe”. We just sit and wait.
We don’t count the bits. We don’t choose one particular snow flake to focus on. To say this one represents me not being good enough. And this one says I’m not confident, pretty, special. Or all of the above.
We just sit and watch. With innocence. With intrigue. With curiosity. With our attention on the real Game. THATS what we have our focus on. We don’t care about the noise, the bits, even the globe. We are consciously CHOOSING where we put our attention and on the why.
The purpose of meditation isn’t to still your Mind. The mind will do what it does. Rumble on. Chatter away. Process “stuff”.
One of the purposes of meditation is to create space.
To go inwards. To practice becoming more and more alert. Alert not to what moves, but to what doesn’t.
To SEE the choice of where you put your attention – Outward on your external experience, like a chimp jumping from tree branches chasing moving bananas. And being frustrated that if won’t stop.
Or inward on an internal experience. To cultivate an awareness that you are in fact the witness of something way more than thoughts. The thoughts are nothing.
You have your attention on the ”prize”. Understanding, of course, that it’s not a thing. It’s not a word. It’s an unfolding. A infinite presence. A deeper Truth. It just IS.
And yes, sometimes your focus will fade and you’ll drift to the noise, and start being mesmerised by the snowflakes and the stories. You might experience confusion, a doziness, a drifting off. And then you’ll remember the real Game, and move your attention back to the Space, The Stillness, Source, God, Knowing, Truth. Whatever you wish to call it.
Sometimes there will be many flakes.
Sometimes there will be few.
Sometimes it will be wild.
Sometimes it will be calm.
It is not the mind’s job to be still.
It is not your job to still it.
It is a worthless exhausting idea to even try.
Instead how about you simply decide not to care? And instead, allow.
Allow yourself not to care.
Allow whatever shows up to Be.
Allow yourself to explore what is being presented when you close your eyes.
Beyond the noise, the movement.
Way way beyond.
And you might just discover that there’s a stillness there all of its every own. With its own exquisite qualities and depth. A space that’s so compelling and familiar, you remember it intimately. From a place deep within you. That when you choose to Be there, you’ll know that a part of you never really left.
(Ssh. Don’t tell your Mind though).
Mahita. Also known as Nic.
Let’s be remarkable together.