As anyone who has sat down and tried to meditate knows, the mind and the outside world are very noisy places! Well, guess what? This realization is an important first step in recognizing how much you are constantly dealing with both internal and external stimul. Have you ever hiked to the top of a mountain and listened – silence. And you notice it because you rarely hear true silence. Are we doomed in our quest to find calm and peace in the practice of meditation unless we climb a mountain? Fortunately, the answer is no. (but climbing a mountain is okay too!)
Try to find a place that is your best bet for quiet and turn off your phone and computer. As soon as you close your eyes and become quiet, you are now more aware of the street noise, airplanes, yard work, people talking, children playing, dogs barking, and clocks ticking. If you can easily change any of these things, then do so. If not, embrace the noise as part of your meditation. Thus, the noise becomes just another part of your experience, like the breath, the floor you’re sitting upon, and your thoughts. Now instead of the noise interfering with your practice, it becomes a part of it. If there was a goal in meditation, which there isn’t, it would be to become more at ease, relaxed and at peace with whatever is happening. We do not want to resist anything that comes in, including thoughts. Remember, what we resist persists!
Now what about those seemingly constant thoughts? First know that the nature of the mind is to think so this is perfectly natural! Use the same strategy – notice them, then watch them come and go. Think of your thoughts like clouds against the vast blue sky which is likened to your consciousness. They are supposed to be there but they move on through – they are impermanent. Be aware of them but don’t get attached and focus on the vastness of the sky, of your consciousness. Thus, the space between the clouds or between your thoughts is where you seek to reside. When a thought comes in, notice it, watch it go, focus on the space again. “If the mind wanders a thousand times, then bring it back a thousand and one.” Focusing on the breath or a mantra is another way to bring your attention back.
The practice of sitting in observance of our thoughts provides us with a gift. We can detach from them and realize that we are not our thoughts. We are not even our emotions. You might ask, what are we then if not our thoughts or emotions or even our bodies? We are much more. Our true Self is limitless – we are the space in which they form. Now we could philosophize all day over this but let’s get to the point! Once you realize that you are not your thoughts and emotions but just things happening to you, you have taken a huge positive step towards freedom. The more you let them go as they occur, they lose their power. The more they disappear, the calmer your life becomes. And isn’t that the reason you wanted to meditate?