I had a moment this week of clarity and insight. This was one of those simple and yet profound moments of insight that spontaneously occur. My awareness was in regard to a state of no mind, moments when the mind is still. I have been writing of late about the benefits of silence and stillness. What I realized is that these moments for me have been accompanied by periods of no mind. In this week’s blog I thought I would explore the experience of no mind.
What is no mind? Our brains are designed to constantly be thinking, processing, interpreting and analyzing. Even in states of deep sleep the brain is processing thoughts from the day through the dream cycle. When one is able to decelerate the body and the mind, there are moments when the mind becomes still. This is the experience of no mind. There is a calm that occurs in a moment before the next cloud of thought surfaces. It is like a breath of fresh air, an “ahhh” moment that is hard to put into words because it more experiential that conceptual.
When you combine this with external quiet, the moment can be profound. In combination with silence there is a profound experience. One has to stop and take note of the moment. In the stillness there is a feeling of expansiveness in one’s awareness. The confines of the physical body are gone and simultaneously one feels bigger. There is a deep sense of tranquil consciousness. When this is a new experience, it may feel as though it is taking your breath away. As one becomes more familiar with no mind, the initial surprise diminishes and there is a great sense of joy and bliss.
These experiences, although they may seem uncommon, are natural and accessible to everyone. They are in fact more representative of our true state of being then our typical day-to-day activities and yet most human beings have not experienced them. They are the by-product of daily meditation in which one slows down, focuses upon the breath and is observant of one’s thoughts. Meditation is exercise of the mind. We know we need to exercise our bodies but few choose to exercise their minds. Traditionally, we think of brain teasers, word games, puzzles and higher education as stimulation for the brain. They all do indeed stimulate the brain but how often do we slow down the brain. Stimulation increases our vibrational frequency making us busier. Our processors are busier processing all of the data. Whereas, meditation is taking a break from processing. It is a moment to breathe and let go of the external and internal stimulation.
If you are new to meditation, you should also be aware that meditation is not an instantaneous experience of love, light and delight. As in starting anything new, we all go through stages of beginner, experienced and mastery. In the initial phases of meditation, people experience many things from feeling calmer to agitation. Meditation is about slowing down. Our bodies are used to operating at a certain level of energy/vibration. The more we meditate the more we slow down which will require shifts in the body. Just like going to the gym. When you exercise your body goes through the process of adjusting to being physically challenged. So to in meditation, the subtler bodies of the mind, emotions and physical cells need to adjust to slower states of being. So why meditate unless one can experience instant bliss? It has the same benefits as physical activity but for your mental and spiritual health. It takes time to master anything.
Many people say they can’t meditate. Their minds are too busy and never stop thinking. I have even had people tell me that they are extroverts and can’t be still that long. They need to talk or be active. Like everything, we are drawn to some things more than others. However, meditation is good for your mind and spiritual bodies. Everyone can meditate on some level, it just takes practice and commitment. When people tell me their minds are too busy I tell them that is perfect. Watch the mind be busy. All you have to do is be the observer versus being caught up in the thinking. My teacher use the analogy of a parade. In order to see the parade you have to be standing on the sidelines watching. The moment you jump on a float you are a part of the parade and no longer able to see the parade. This is true of our thoughts. The moment we jump onto a train of thought we are gone. We cannot be the observer; we are caught up in the fantasies of the mind. Meditation is the observation of what is. It is a simple state of wakeful, watchful awareness. Anyone can be a meditator and everyone can experience the benefits of a meditative practice.
I began by writing about no mind. Meditation is the doorway to no mind. It is a journey of self-discovery, insight and awakening. Meditation is simply the observation of what is. All that I have written can be summed in the following quote from the Katha Upanishad,
When all the sense are stilled,
when the mind is at rest,
when the intellect wavers not – then,
say the wise, is reached the highest state.