Q. Isn’t just calming down our minds by sitting silently in an upright posture a good practice?
A. I want to ask you why you practise meditation. If the purpose of your practice is just taking a quiet rest for a while, it is okay, I think. The idea of sitting silently in a quiet place is not a bad idea. It can help to ease your stress that comes from troublesome reality and keep your life peaceful for a while.
However, what I want to point out is that you are not calming down your mind in a strict sense, even though you may think that you are trying to do so and may feel a short-lived peace that sitting silently can bring. Calming down your mind is quite different from just sitting silently in a quiet place. The former is a kind of practice, and the latter is a kind of a break, or a rest. The former aims for a permanent or eternal effect, but the latter only has a temporary effect.
I don’t want to discourage you from trying to calm down your mind but want to encourage you to do it in a more efficient way. In order to compose your mind, your top priority should be to realise what your mind is. How could you calm it down without knowing what it is? You should make every effort, above all, to realise what your mind is. Don’t just sit silently. Ask yourself what your mind is while sitting. Then, you can be said to be practising to calm your mind.
What is your mind? Your mind, it is said, controls your body, which means your mind is not your body. Then ask yourself what it is that controls your body whenever you do something: eating, walking, speaking, working and so on. In other words, it is the same question as “What are you when your body is not you?” You don’t need any special place, such as a quiet area, to do this. Just keeping the question is a good practice regardless of wherever you are and whatever you do. As you become accustomed to practising it, you can feel your everyday life become more peaceful.
In fact, you don’t have to try to calm down your mind once you realise what it is because it is quietness itself. All the problems and troubles that we are faced with in our life are due to not knowing what our mind is. If you realise what your mind is, you will find that the whole universe is peace itself.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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