Eastern philosophers and teachers for thousands of years have taught the concept of “No-Mind”. In Zen Buddhism it is known as “Mushin”, a concept learned by martial artists, practiced by the Samurai warriors, to achieve a state of complete nothingness, even if just for a moment. In the ancient Indian teachings, it has been practiced for centuries, in yoga and meditation. How do you achieve a state of No-Mind and what is it anyway?
I really “got” no-mind when I broke my first board learning Taekwondo with my daughters. It was my very first breaking board in white belt. I was supposed to break it with my fist, and after aligning my body to break it I was supposed to count 1, 2 and on 3 pull my fist back and then BAM – break the board.
I remember clearly first feeling flooded by fear, and that there was no way I could ever break the board. And then a new thought appeared. I heard a voice saying to me, “Board, No-Board. Board, No-Board”. A voice asking me to let the fear disappear and simply Do It. And I did. I said in my mind, “Board, No Board” and BAM!!! I broke not one but 3 boards and won the Adult Breaking Board Trophy that belt ceremony.
The concept is quite simple, although it may not be as easy to practice at first. Many a time we focus effort on trying to STOP our thinking to achieve a clarity of mind or free ourselves from stress or disturbing thoughts. STOPPING our thinking never works. “What you resist, will persist”. Trying to force freedom from negative thinking will only give rise to more of it. Peace, joy, happiness. These cannot be forced. Bad thinking cannot be forced out of our mind. Although many have tried but failed in their attempts at this.
You cannot stop the mind. You can never stop thinking. What is the mind anyway other than the stream of consciousness and the continuous thinking of the thoughts you have? Imagine it as a river of thoughts flowing through you. Rather than being in the center of the river, flowing with it, no-mind practitioners ask that you watch the river flow from the river banks. In this way, a no-mind practitioner transforms into witnessing the mind and its stream of consciousness.
Can you think of a time when you just lost track of time and were in the “flow” or in the “zone”? Can you remember a time driving your car, going for a walk, or exercising and not realizing how much time really had gone by? The concepts of time and space seem to disappear when we relinquish our efforts to control our thoughts, don’t they?
Indian spiritual teacher Acharya Shree Shankar says, “Just watch, be alert. And drop this idea of stopping; otherwise, it will stop the natural transformation of the mind. Let thoughts pass through your mind, do not get attached to it, just witness and enjoy. No-mind is not against mind; no-mind is beyond mind means you are not into the mind anymore. No-mind does not come by killing and destroying the mind: no-mind comes when you have understood the mind so totally that thinking is no longer needed; your understanding has replaced it. As you witness the mind more and more, it will automatically bring you to the state of no-mind.”
The thinking you have today is a result of all the thinking, thoughts, mental patterns and beliefs you have carried thus far in your life. Any new thinking you have will also arise from that very same “vault” of thoughts, from those very same “ingredients” from your mental thought pantry will you be creating the new concocted thinking of your life. How then do you create new results in your life? It is by transforming into the state of no-mindedness and being a witness more and more.
I lovingly call the state of Mind-No-Mind “MINOMI”, reminds me of a Japanese anime character! I am thinking coffee mugs and t-shirts with MINOMI on them might be a fun thing to do. MINOMI also translates into Me-Know-Me, meaning, in order to have true inner peace we must pause all other searching and know ourselves, and who we really are. There are so many deeper levels of this concept of no-mind. This right here is just the beginning.
Would you like to achieve a state of No-Mind? Or MINOMI / Me-Know-Me? Start with this simple step of witnessing.
Until next time, may this pause be with you.