Settling Down

I am in the woods with my husband on a clear cold day. We decide to sit on a log that crosses over a little stream to meditate. The setting is idyllic. The sounds from the water soothing. The company stellar. My body comfortable and cozy. I have nowhere to be but where I am.

And yet, the mind. Oh, how it goes. Everywhere.

As I am sitting, supposedly meditating, I start to notice the pressures and the disturbances of my thoughts. It begins to dawn on me that even when the external circumstances couldn’t be more supportive, it just takes time for some things to settle down inside. And when there is no judgment about how long this takes, or the particular forms that it arrives in, there is no problem with this; on any level.

From this perspective, it just becomes a really, really good thing to know. For if I can recognize this about myself, that it sometimes takes time, even a lot of time, to settle down, it gives me the courage to stay. And in the staying, I leave myself open to what comes after the disturbance, the chaos, and the confusion.

Many of us never put ourselves in the position of just being with whatever is happening in the mind; instead, working our tail off to get out of it. Or change it. Or fix it. Or obliterate it. Or cover it up. The “it” being all of the things that we simply cannot tolerate. The things that we just do not want to be there. And because we cannot be with “it,” we never give ourselves a chance to come through to the other side, and have that experience.

So maybe the issue is not what many of us would say it is. That being the impossibility or the difficulty of being with the disturbances and the chaos of the mind. But maybe instead, it is about our willingness to ride it out. Our faith even, that this too shall pass.

The thing with this one though is that you cannot get there merely by thinking about it as an idea. You actually have to experience it, by doing it. You have to practice waiting it out. Sitting there. Counting to 10. Watching the intensity of the thoughts as they pick up steam towards some unseen crescendo, and then start to come back down again.

From a practical standpoint, you might even time yourself in increments. As in for today, I am going to sit un-moving and un-changing, being with my thoughts as they are, for 1 minute. And if that is too much, half it, and then half it again. Because if it really is about the willingness to stay, any amount is just as good as any other amount of time.