In the Twelve Step program of Co-dependants Anonymous, "Think is our drink." We are addicted to thinking like an alcoholic is to drinking, so are stuck in our heads trying to figure out what everybody else is thinking and feeling so we might please them and avoid conflict. We are stuck in memories of the past and fears or rehearsals of future. All of this mind energy gets stored up in our bodies so tension and ailments arise.
This is very much a western habit as we have suffered from an over emphasis and attachment to rationalism for centuries. We also tend to ignore our bodies signals and push through whatever we are doing day after day through-out our lives. For those of us from dysfunctional families it was even worse as we we led to believe our feelings were wrong or crazy.
This is why in meditation we often focus on the breath, as it brings us down into the body. We start to feel what is going on a visceral level and realize we are more than just a thinking machine. Emotions are also a connection of mind to body, well worth looking into on a regular basis. In fact, if a thought and feeling are in conflict, the emotion is probably the truth.
We can use any of our senses to feel our way back into the body. Meditating on sounds is very useful as like thought we learn to accept and surrender to them, holding their presence with a light touch as if placed on an open hand rather than a clenched fist. Should judgments or other thoughts intrude we simply let them go and return focus to the sounds presence just the same as with breath focus.
Many prefer meditation with eyes open to let the eyes and mind rest on simple objects like a flower, candle, or figure. Again we seek bare awareness of the color, shape, and so forth so as to let thoughts fade and go rather than create or entertain them. Touch work in the same way as we feel the sunlight or breeze on our skin, the weight of our bodies on our legs, or any such tactile sensation.
The point and key here is that sensations are physical much more than mental, so as we guide our attention to the senses the mind can rest and relax. When we begin to really understand and effectively employ these practices we find the mind fades to the background and a calm, ease, and tranquility take center stage. We soon find that compulsive thinking gives way to the primordial and infinite love, peace, joy, and beauty of all creation above, behind, and beyond our physical and mental world.
Once we get back to our bodies we can reach out and experience the environment, other people, animals, life, even earth, sky, sun, and so on. We can find our true home in that still, calm, peaceful place within us wherever we are. Once we regain calm and composure, a wonderful thing happens, wisdom arises of its on accord. What a blessing!
A good analogy to employ in calm abiding meditation follows the cycle of water. It often seems as if storm clouds are gathering in our lives as things get dark and the winds of change begin to blow. Our minds can become a stormy maelstrom of tumultuous upheaval as people and situations become difficult and triggering. We may be sent spinning and flying off as if caught in a tornado of upset, disruption, and disorder.
Disturbing thoughts and emotions may come in a roaring downpour that carries us off like a flood and sends us crashing about as if over waterfalls and rapids. Again we are spinning in the swirling eddies of our mind made tempest. Yet if we can go with the flow and accept the storm as it is we find mental refuge that allows us to sit out the storm as it passes as they all eventually do.
Thus the raging river of our thoughts and emotions gives way to the wide and deep river of the depths of our infinite being. Acceptance and surrender to the deepest part of our true nature leads to a peaceful calmness like a vast and tranquil lake, sea, or ocean. Welcome back. Welcome home. Again, this peaceful place is just on step away, the one step back from identification with egocentric compulsively thinking mind to the kind, loving, and unlimited heart and soul of our True Self.
We are wise to use meditation to center and calm ourselves starting out our day, as stress arises through-out the day, at a lunch break, driving home, and before sleep. Also anytime something is bothering us or we are searching for answers.
Calm abiding meditation is about surrender and acceptance, two of our greatest tools. In fact we call them "super powers," as we must surrender to and accept what is in order to take effective actions. Otherwise we are stuck in reaction, responding from fears and past conditioning rather than in the moment. Look for a post on surrender and acceptance here.
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