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Our minds are turbulent, like the rough waves close to the shore. The more we fight against the mind, the harder meditation and stillness become.
When you begin a mindfulness meditation practice, you’re agitated, moving—your thoughts are constantly tossed about. You might even start to ruminate on the negative things in your life like pain or trauma. In an attempt to force yourself into silence, you might try to fight through the distractions and the thoughts that are swirling around it. The experience can leave you feeling drowned and defeated, as silence appears an unattainable goal.
Embracing the mind in meditation is similar to finding the right wave. During a trip to the Florida Atlantic coast, my 11-year-old tried in frustration to ride the big waves close to shore with his boogie board. I noticed that the waves farther out were less turbulent. All it took was traveling 10 feet into the water to experience a smoother ride.
Attempting to quiet your mind for silent meditation can be like trying to fight the waves close to shore. The nature of your mind is to produce thought. Like the ocean, it has its own rhythm and flow. It should be respected, not feared or fought against.
In meditation, it’s pointless to become angry and frustrated when the mind persists with thought. It’s simply doing its job. Trying to fight those thoughts will only further your frustration and hinder your ability to experience complete mindfulness. Once you stop fighting against it and allow it to flow naturally, you can begin to retreat into the depths of your inner self beyond the chaos and distractions.
In practicing a mantra-based meditation technique such as Primordial Sound Meditation, you repeat your mantra effortlessly and easily. A mantra is a tool, which occupies the mind, so you can go deeper into meditation. A mantra, in essence, is a thought that replaces other thoughts. As you repeat your mantra, you will continue to have thoughts. But if you allow them to ebb and flow, you will experience a quieter mind as time goes on. Silent meditation will help you draw awareness away from your busy brain to achieve inner peace and happiness. The slowing of the breath and quietness of the mind brings you clarity to see all beautiful things within yourself as you become a reflection of the absolute perfection of the whole universe.
However, there is as much beauty in activity as there is in the calmer waters. If you can learn to appreciate the mind in its turbulence, you’ll be ready to experience its silence. The turmoil of the ocean brings gifts of beautiful shells, rocks, and sea creatures. The activity of the mind, when observed from a deeper place, can bring you creativity and solutions. It all depends on where you’re situated. Are you constantly being tossed about by the rough waves? Or are you floating effortlessly and fearlessly on your boogie board? Rooted in the silence acquired through your meditation practice, you will find it easier to step back into the commotion of daily living with a new perspective. In other words, accessing inner peace through silent retreat of the mind is not about stopping life’s imperfections, it’s about embracing them from a new point of view.
For example, prior to learning meditation, you may have become angry and frustrated each time your children forgot to put their toys away or your mother calls to criticize you. Now, with your new perspective, you may see your children’s creative Lego masterpieces as a stroke of genius rather than an annoying mess. And instead of a barrage of hurtful words, you may begin to see your mother’s criticism as loving concern in obscure packaging.
Often, new meditators come to me frustrated as they try to harness the mind or push thoughts away. They find it difficult and anxiety-provoking to sit down to meditate. They keep trying and feel they never arrive at the peacefulness they seek. The key is to allow the mind to be what it is; accept it as it is. Treat it with kindness and compassion. Once you do this, you might even find yourself amused and laughing at what it does.
Reticent to take my advice, my son remained at the shore. I took my board and went out about 15 to 20 feet. Then lying on the board, I allowed the waves to gently rock me where they wanted to take me. Slowly my board and I became a part of the rhythmic flow. It felt calm, peaceful, and safe. As I turned my gaze toward the shore, I saw swimmers struggling and being knocked over as they battled through the forceful crashing waves, often while keeping one foot on the sand. Yet, there I was serene and observant in deep waters.
At times we’re afraid to move beyond what we know. The unknown can be scary. Even in chaos, with one foot still on the ground, we feel safer. Let go and learn to trust that your inner self, beyond the mind, will take you where you need to go. Let yourself be carried by it, instead of fighting through it. And you, too, will become one with the flow and rhythm of the entire universe.
To go deeper into your meditation practice and learn how to reap the full benefits of silent meditation, sign up for our Silent Awakenings retreat.