Imagine this: You take a large glass of water, dump in a tablespoon of dirt and mix it up. How do you get the water to return to its natural, clear state?
The answer is simple. You leave the glass still and apply time.
Our minds are very much like this.
Our natural state of mind is clear and still. However, we dump in dirt (worry, anxiety, anger, greed) and we get all mixed up.
The solution for a clear and quiet mind is the same as it is for a glass of dirt filled water. We sit still and let it settle.
I want to focus on the importance of complete and total stillness.
A prerequisite for a still mind is a still body.
Many of us in the West have succumbed to the mind/body dualism that believes we have a “mind” which is “me” which drives around this machine of a body which is somehow separate from “mind/me.”
Yet, we know intuitively that our minds and bodies are deeply linked. When I am in physical pain, I get mentally agitated. When I think something is funny, my body laughs. When I worry about work my shoulders tighten up and I get a headache. When I have a massage, my body and mind are both relaxed.
After developing a daily meditation practice, I see this mind-body connection so clearly now that I am even uncomfortable with the phrase mind-body connection because it implies a possibility of separation.
Back and forth, our mind and body inform and shape each other. They are one.
So in our practice if we want a quiet mind we need a quiet body.
When I sit in daily meditation I make a commitment to myself: For the period I have set aside for practice I will be completely still. In this stillness I am free from the distractions and disruptions of movement.
Don't take my word for it. Try it yourself and see. Does sitting completely still help you settle into your meditation practice more quickly and fully? Once your settled, try scratching your nose. Can you see the waves of disruption in your mind and how long it takes to get focused again?
May your practice go well!
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.
Recommended Reading: Harvard Business Review: We have a bias toward action.
When faced with uncertainty or a problem, particularly an ambiguous one, we prefer to do something, even if it’s counterproductive and doing nothing is the best course of action. Consider the case of professional soccer goalies who need to defend against penalty kicks. What is the most effective strategy for stopping the ball? It turns out, staying in the center is best. Research has found that goalkeepers who dive to the right stop the ball 12.6% of the time and those who dive to the left do only a little better: They stop the ball 14.2% of the time. But goalies who don’t move do the best of all: They have a 33.3% chance of stopping the ball.
Nonetheless, goalies stay in the center only 6.3% of the time. Why? Because it looks and feels better to have missed the ball by diving (an action) in the wrong direction than to have the ignominy of watching the ball go sailing by and never to have moved. The action bias is usually an emotional reaction to the sense that you should do something, even if you don’t know what to do. By contrast, hanging back, observing, and exploring a situation is often the better choice.