Updated: Jun 8, 2022
These were the words of my meditation teacher a little while ago when I was attempting to engage in philosophical chat about meditation and its process.
I love the romantic and philosophic conversation that can surround meditation, but it’s not necessary when it comes to the actual practice. In fact, opinions and perspective can create additional barriers to sustaining practice in the form of expectations or comparisons - more stories the mind likes to indulge in.
And it simply comes down to this: just sit still and be quiet.
Sounds like the words that one tells an unruly child or misbehaving pupil. Often this results in the exact opposite taking place! In a sense, our mind is that unruly or misbehaving child. And it tends to kick-off more when we tell it be quiet… So, although the instruction seems almost raw and without sensitivity towards the nature of our minds - the busy, chaotic, ruminative, judgemental, messy, distracted and unsettled - it’s a starting point. The practice is not about controlling or stopping thoughts, but becoming aware of them, so that they don’t control you.
Being still and quiet for just a few intentional minutes has the power to give the mind a rest from stimulation, from external input.
This break has the power to create some space in-between thoughts and in-between thinking. It’s in this space that we may hear the whisper of our own voice, which often gets drowned out by incessant shouting thoughts. It’s in this space that we may come to realise our true nature which often lies underneath the cultural conditioning that we fall prey to. And it won’t always be this way. Some days the practice may be messy, some it will feel like you’ve made ‘progress.’ Don’t buy into any of it, “just sit still and be quiet” again and again. But we can always afford ourselves the same kindness and compassion we would to that unruly, misbehaving child - it knows no better, so let it be and simply remain aware…