Meditation Tip: Calmness Within
Quite a number of us come to meditation because we long for a sense of inner calmness and stillness in the midst of our very busy and often chaotic life. We may instinctively sense that this inward-directing action of meditation holds the key to unlock a source of peace and well-being within us.
It is also just as common to find the opposite in our meditation–lots of mental agitation in the form of thoughts and images along with physical tension and contraction. Calmness of body and mind seems to be the last thing we will ever experience in meditation.
And yet the way to inner calm isn’t that difficult or esoteric. It does, however, require a good dose of gentleness and patience with ourselves, our body and our mind. Curiosity also helps. What we don’t really need is frustration, upsetness and the mentality of “trying harder” by squeezing and tensing anything and everything we can lay hands on. Having said this, I must add that it is also okay when we find ourselves feeling frustrated, getting upset, and inevitably start to tense up; we can meet these experiences with more gentleness and patience.
So, what should we do to find our way to calmness?
Through promoting the process of settling down of body and mind. Just as the sediments in a glass of muddy water will slowly settle down under the force of gravity, likewise the agitations of body and mind will slowly unwind and settle down under the gentle and patient gaze of awareness coupled with a sense of genuine curiosity and interest in the unfolding process. Let’s say we are meditating on mindfulness of breathing. With each natural out-breath, we can practise the art of releasing; we release unnecessary tightness in the body with each breath and we release unnecessary agitation of the mind with each breath.
It is really not our business as to when the body will relax or the mind will calm down. It is, however, our work to patiently and gently continue to let go of any tension or rumination we find within. We can actively wonder (wordlessly) what is going to happen next: will my left shoulder relax before my right one? Or will it be the other way round? Will both stay tight and tense throughout? Will my thoughts of the past continue or will it change? Will my worrying of the future intensify before it stops or will it stop and then starts again?
Within the field of awareness that is accompanied by gentleness, patience and curiosity, we may be pleasantly surprised by how easy a relative state of calmness sets in or the process of physical and mental relaxation deepens, if only we hold no fixed idea and, instead, allow whatever needs to arise to arise. The clarity of our mind can reveal itself to us, like the clarity of calm, still water.
Published on June 2, 2011.
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