If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me to teach them how to simply “turn their mind OFF”, let’s just say, I’d have hundreds of dollars.
At the beginning of my career as a personal transformation and spiritual teacher, I would patiently and lovingly explain how it was not possible to “turn one’s mind OFF”, but instead notice, witness, and be an observer of the mind. I’d say things like, “Picture you are in the audience and your life is happening on stage….”! A few years into my practice, I developed a more direct way to illustrate this.
Turn your mind off? If you want to turn anything off, wouldn’t it help to know where it is?
When I ask such questions, some reply – the brain.
The brain? The brain is your cerebral cortex, frontal lobe, gray matter – the brain is an organ in your skull. Your mind is not the brain.
So where is your mind?
Does the mind have a physical form, shape or structure?
The power of the mind is so compelling it seems that it should be palpable; it feels like it must be a real, tangible, touchable organ in your body! When the mind races, there are noticeable physiological responses in our body – the heart rate and pulse increase, for instance. And when it slows down, it can bring a calming effect where the physiological effect is more peaceful and serene.
Recently, I was invited to speak on meditation for emotional healing at a large wellness practice. Something I said really connected with the audience. I could tell by their attention and focus. I said, “If someone says to you, take these beads, sit facing this direction and chant these affirmations or mantras so many times early in the morning and then so many times every evening, every day, at these specific times; or feeds you any other gobbledygook about how to meditate –don’t believe them!”
I am guessing they connected with this because there is plenty of “how to meditate” information nowadays. In my understanding and practice of meditation, there is no one set way, dogma or style to meditate. Meditation helps you experience freedom of the mind, then why the separation, segmentation, and barriers?
Meditation is not a physical, mechanical, technical action or series of actions that you have to take. It is not something to do to get to some place. Meditation is not about sitting in the lotus pose for an extended period of time staring at your belly button. It is never boring nor a long and windy road uphill.
To me, meditation is like sheet music. Just like in sheet music there are notes and rests. The pauses in meditating, like those rests, help you appreciate and enjoy the music in your life. You need those silences to appreciate the notes, and the opposite is true as well.
Even as a spiritual and meditation teacher, I cannot simply teach you my way as the way of meditating. You have to learn your way by practicing meditation and seeking your own answers. I can assist you on this journey, support you, but I cannot give you your answers. You are a unique blueprint, like no one else on the planet. How can one person’s truth be the same for another unless they have experienced it for themselves and found it to be so of their own volition? As such, to me, meditation is more so the practice of the art of self-inquiry. More than anything else, it is the practice of patience, of presence and the pause.
Everything you need to know already exists within you. All there is to do is to shut your eyes and open them on the inside and be the silent observer to the expanse of innate wisdom that lies within you. No amount of reading, studying, chanting or any other cerebral exercise will help you connect with the divine within you. You can’t think your way into a trance or self-hypnosis and call it meditation. Meditation is not what you think. It is to be, simply, yet profoundly aware of all that there is, without attachment.
Think on this, oops, I meant, be with this for now.
Until next time, may this pause, be with you!