Emperor’s Log #42: Utter Stillness

I spend a good amount of my time planning. When other obligations prevent me from executing my plans, then my mind will continue the planning process while the rest of my being is on autopilot. The planning is good. It increases my productivity and reduces wasted time.

When is the planning mind not wanted? When I am meditating.

Meditation is not a time for me to spend planning. Granted, I do a little each session since I have adopted a new meditation strategy. Here is my current practice that I learned from Ben Greenfield:

  • 2 minutes breathing
  • 2 minutes of gratitude
  • 2 minutes of visualizing my day (planning)
  • 1 minute of breathing.

This is a short and sweet practice that I have programmed on my Insight Timer app. Though this is an easy meditation to follow, I still struggle with it. The first two minutes of breathing should be easy. All I need to do is relax and follow my breath. In and out and nothing else on my mind. Two minutes is not that long, yet I consistently lose focus and allow my mind to wander. If I don’t check it quick enough, I will forget my breathing altogether and allow my thoughts to run rampant for the duration of the session. Rather than mastering my thoughts, I allow my thoughts to master me.

Shrug it all off and wipe it clear -every annoyance and distraction and reach utter stillness.

Marcus Aurelius

Achieving stillness is a practice.

This is my goal: utter stillness. The only way I can get to it is to wipe away the distractions. It is a practice I struggle with. But by continuing to practice, I hope to one day achieve mastery.

Practicing stillness is also an art. I must be aware of my mind and what I am thinking. My mind wants to wander. This is its nature and one I must be cognizant of. I cannot allow it to upset me. I cannot go to war with my mind and attempt to force it into submission. This is not stillness but internal turmoil. When a thought is generated while meditating, I must receive it, appreciate the fact that I am still able to generate new thoughts, and then let it go back to the ether. The good thoughts can be retrieved later without disturbing the meditation session.

Clearing the muddy waters requires stillness. When our own minds are not clear, we are not at peace. Only in stillness can we clear our minds.

Bruce Lee, from the book Be Water, My Friend by Shannon Lee

If my mind is the muddy water, then I cannot continue to stir it. To clear the water, or my mind, I must find stillness. To do this, I will go back and heed Marcus Aurelius’ words: shrug it off and wipe away the annoyances and distractions. Therefore, my only choice is to continue practicing.

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