In a time where many find life more stressful and more precious it is, I feel a vital part of spiritual life to find a way to contemplate on all things that happen around you. At times of stress how do we switch off or do we not and just continue until we burn out? How do we find peace within a mind full of endless chatter? How do we find the calm to make the right choices and decisions at key times when we feel nothing but pressure? The truth is mindfulness and meditation can help with all this and more. Now the funny thing is that you as many others will saying, ‘i don’t have time’. Actually, it’s that thinking which highlights your need more. We should all have time for self and if we don’t, we should make time. The wonderful aspect of these two practices is that they disturb no one else and don’t take long to do. Sometimes only a few minutes practice a day can help. However, the more you do it, the more you feel the benefits and that will encourage you on to do more. Let’s start with mindfulness. This is simply the practice of stilling the mind and stopping the chatter. It involves much the same as meditation but it can be done while walking, sitting at a desk or taking a few minutes out from work. The practice simply requires you to stop thinking for a moment, let all thoughts go, focus on nothing else but breathing. If a thought interrupts this then just let it go until it fades away. As you focus on your breathing keep it even and steady, maybe recite a mantra in your mind. ‘om mani padme hom’. This is merely a suggestion not a rule. You can recite anything that helps you find that place of stillness through breathing. Mindfulness is not about mindlessness it’s about allowing more oxygen into the brain; it’s about calming and training the wild mind. Often our mind causes us issues that in retrospect we wish that we had not done. The untrained mind is not a good thing and can cause us to make rash decisions, act in violent ways and say harsh things we did not mean. It can also add to our stress and pressure, cause us self-doubt, cause us to have doubts about our belief and love for self and others. We often blame all this on others but when we take a closer look and are more honest, it soon becomes evident it is us that caused these issues. Our mind.
TO ACHIEVE A STILL MIND
To achieve a still mind requires the practices previously spoken of through mindfulness and meditation. Though meditation does not have to be the formal type you hear people speak of whereby you sit crossed legged in a quiet room. There are ways of adapting it to any situation. Walking meditation is possible. It simply once again requires you to clear the mind and allow all thoughts to go. Focus on your breathing or recite a mantra over in your head until that moment where you find peace and tranquillity within your mind, rather than that chatter and cacophony that can often be the root cause of all stress and worry. Once perfected I have found that even in the noisiest of environments drilling the mind and mindful meditation can still be achieved.
So what benefits are there to a still mind? Well there are clear benefits such as inner tranquillity and peace that not only reduces stress levels that are so bad for your health but also allow you to think more clearly. Often, I find the still one perceives things more keenly. It helps find solutions to problems much more easily because the distractions and the clutter of other thoughts have been removed. The still mind allows for greater reasoning and tolerance towards all people and situations and also allows you the rational ability to see through the self-imposed and domesticated fears that reside within you. Much of what we have spoken about in fact is based on the inner workings of self. We fear monsters under the bed but actually they are in your head, just like those demons we are often told about through religious teachings. All things come back to self and all things are created by the conscious mind. The mind is as the Dalai Lama pointed out is not necessarily your friend and requires training just like you would train a dog. The untrained mind is a dangerous thing. It can cause much harm to self and others through acts and words of wrongness. The untrained mind can cause much hurt and also become so hurt. The still mind is a trained mind. It is a mind obedient to self, in touch with your spiritual essence. It is capable of self-love and love for there on an unconditional level, it casts out self-doubt and self-loathing. The most important aspect of the still mind though is clarity and true understanding as well as awakening to life and the whole universe itself.
Other health benefits stem from the chemical relations set off in the mind when stressed. There are two main chemicals that flood the brain when in states of either euphoria or depression. When we learn to still the mind it may give us greater control over these chemicals and how much is released. Being in a state of euphoria would be as wearing and as taxing on someone as a state of constant depression. We need to find balance between the two. A balanced mind reflects a balanced life. Within the universal matrix of the universe and nature, everything that coexist and works so well is always carefully balanced. An example is this Earth on which we live. It is made up on many different chemicals like carbons, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane to name a few. Each one is finely balanced together to create the air we breathe. If any one of these chemicals were to increase or decrease infinitesimally, we would cease to exist. This is how vital balance is. This is how important a balanced mind and life is. This is how crucial a still mind is, for it demonstrates a trained and balanced state of being.