The mind is like water. When it's turbulent, it's difficult to see. When it's calm, everything becomes clear.
One of the misconceptions of meditation is that we need to strive for a calm state of mind. A turbulent state of mind seems bad, something to get rid of. Meditation would be able to do just that: calming the waves of the mind, whenever we want.
But let me ask you something, are we able to calm the waves of the sea?
No, it's part of nature.
And it's the same thing with the state of our mind.
The mind state and the content of thoughts are part of nature.
There is no such thing as a continuous calm sea. And there is no way we can calm it because we say so.
When our mind is like a stormy sea, we may be tempted to turn our back to go on land: we disrupt our practice. "You see, meditation doesn't work for me!"
But whenever we want to control something that is part of nature, we will return home with a disillusion. In addition, we keep feeding the illusion that we are able to control things that are not in our control.
In a particular way of mindfulness meditations we learn to deal differently with the states of the mind.
We learn to watch the waves of the mind, just like we are watching the waves of the sea.
We take an observer perspective and start to get insight in the nature of thoughts. We realize that the waves of thoughts that come up:
- live their own life
- don't define reality
- come and go and are always changing
- are not in our control
Turning our back to them or wishing to stop them, won't help. The storm on the sea continues, even if you turn your back.
But once we watch them being present, we can choose how to deal with them.
Choosing how to deal with what comes up is an active choice we can then make in your attention. One of the things we can do in meditation or daily life is:
- we let go of the thought if we deem not usefull and wait for another wave of thought to come up
- we can watch state of the sea: "oh, it's stormy right now" or "oh, it's nice and calm"
- we can feel our body and see if there is any emotion in our body that needs attendance
We don't have to be caught up in the storm when the sea is wild and we don't have to turn our back to go inland. We can simply watch the stormy waves and actually learn something from it.