I hear this all the time: I can’t meditate, I can’t quiet my mind. I’m here to bust the biggest meditation myth there is: meditation has nothing to do with quieting your mind. Boom. There it is. Myth busted. I will add that a quiet mind can be a lovely benefit, but don’t seek it.
The nature of the mind is to think, is to dream, is to imagine and to vision. You want your mind to be thinking. It tells us we’re alive. What you don’t want is to believe all of its thoughts. What you don’t want is to follow your mind down the rabbit hole like Alice followed the white rabbit. It gets trippy fast, and usually results in inflamed emotions, bad choices, and disproportionate reactions.
The point of meditation is to strengthen the witness. And if you’re in my school of thought, to raise your vibration, which I’ll discuss at another time. The witness is the part of us that is not doing the thinking or feeling. Hundreds of thoughts and feelings pass-through minute to minute and day to day. The Witness observes.
If thoughts and feelings are clouds in the sky, the witness is the blue backdrop. The vast container that never changes. The thing that holds the various weather patterns which pass through daily.
So how do we identify with our witness? We sit quietly and study ourselves. We focus on the breath, in and out of our nose, and label “thinking” when a thought arises (no matter what it is), and we label “feeling” when a feeling arises (no matter what it is). Then we come back to the breath.
I promise, your ability to accept what arises will grow. And as a result of this, your inner and outer worlds are destined to transform for the better. (Just in case the idea of transformation in your life seems frightening, I’ve added “for the better,” just to ease the fear. You see, the universe is indeed conspiring for your success, you just have to show up a little.)
Over time, through meditation, we begin to see the patterning of our own minds. We realize that we have been at the hands of this mind most of our lives, following it this way and that, believing in all it presents to us. As we peel away from this trance and tell Alice’s white rabbit to get lost, we are left with a strong observer, one that can say, “I’m going to stay present to the truth of this situation, how I feel right now. I’m not going to give my attention to the stories that are arising. This moment deserves my full attention and presence.” Breath.
Again, through the gateway of this personal investigation, we become more in tune with ourselves, better listeners, more curious, and more in control (what? yes) of what behavior we exhibit and contribute to the space and relationships around us. How, you ask? Because we have started to build the ability to witness the background thoughts and feelings always arising and falling, which usually have very little to the truth of what’s happening right here and right now. We become empowered to consciously respond not only to our inner world, but to our outer world as well. Meditation supports us to live ‘in response to’ rather than ‘in reaction of.’
Knowing that hundreds of thoughts and feeling will just pass by if not entertained, gives us the chance to feel more peaceful, centered, and calm. We begin to know ourselves as something much bigger, much more spacious, and much more compassionate and powerful than the little voice inside that has a tendency to say otherwise.
Therefore, forget quieting your mind. That’s a guaranteed unpleasant experience. And nearly impossible. Just sit and observe your thoughts. Label thinking, or feeling, and come back to focusing on the breath in and out of your nose. Strengthen your relationship to the witness within and allow the fruits of your exploration to flourish.
This is meditation, a tool that will take you from one perspective of life to another… for the better.