Finding Inner Calmness

This Uposatha day, I feel like discussing my experience with finding some measure of inner tranquility. If calmness is the goal, where does one begin?

I’m not perfectly calm all the time, as my wife would surely attest, but I’ve abandoned a number of rather useless thoughts in a process that has helped me settle my mind. It is a continual work in progress, and I imagine it being so for a very long time.

The first thing I think one who wants to calm the mind (even just a little) needs to do is find ten minutes every day for quiet reflection. Stop everything and try to clear you mind of all the chaos that continually arises. During this time, when a thought about those dishes that need to be done, or that thing at work you haven’t finished, or your bills that aren’t paid, whatever it may be, just be aware of it and gently and lovingly remind yourself that for the next few minutes it is not time for those things. In your mind, see the thought pass away, to be thought again later, or possibly never if it was truly worthless.

While you’re in this moment, kindly reminding the mind to stop thinking about all those things, pay attention as much as you can to your breath and observe the fact that it is there. One breath in, one breath out, another in, another out… and so on and so forth. Consider that we often forget the breath entirely, but we have to admit to ourselves that breathing is not only critically important, but it is can be an incredibly pleasant feeling. Carry on in this way for a little while.

As you watch your breath, in particular the sensation of air bristling into and out of your nose or the movement of the abdomen, we can envision the energy of the breath flowing in and the chaos of our mind flowing out, taking negative energy away and leaving our mind less dirty, more luminous than before. For even just ten minutes a day (set an alarm and lock the bedroom door if you have to!), practice in this way earnestly for a while and you will find that the racing thoughts are less hurried and the mind can watch them, and slow them down (or even stop them) before they spiral out of control, turning into acts that we later regret.

Eventually you’ll even find that you can practice in this way while standing, walking, and even in conversation. When you find something frustrating and you see the breath change — you can learn to adjust this process so that little or no change can be discerned. You can keep your mind secluded from the chaos and operate independently of it, even while fully immersed in it.

This is training the mind to be calmer, and it is not something that can be done in an instant. Like any skill, this concentration must be honed. Release yourself of any expectations of calm, of quiet, and simply be there for that moment, concentrated as much as you can on your breath. The calm and quiet can come on its own.

Gradually, gradually,
a moment at a time,
the wise remove their own impurities
as a goldsmith removes the dross.

Dhammapada vs 239

May today be auspicious and your mind at peace, friends. I will write again soon.

Advertisements

8 comments

  1. Wonderful post.

    1. Thank you for saying so, friend. Please, be well! 🙂

  2. This is a wonderful practice – thank you 🙂

  3. Hope you don’t mind me asking. When you practice breath meditation (anapanasati) in Buddhism, don’t you have to keep your back straight, that’s how we learn it here (seated), isn’t it essential?

    1. No bother in asking anything, friend. 🙂

      Certainly, it seems to be ideal when practicing anapanasati to be seated, back erect, eyes closed and mind quiet. When I’m at home, I often find that I can practice in this way on the floor in our living room for instance, provided interruptions are minimal. That said, with young children, interruptions are very rarely minimal, so my own practice is a little more variable and, admittedly, not necessarily the absolute ideal.

      Still, I can’t emphasize enough the benefits of applying this sort of mindfulness to every aspect, or as many as possible, of daily life.

      Ultimately, however, I would pay closest attention to anything your own teacher may have instructed you to do. While I try to share my own experience for the benefit of others, I am no meditation master — just another practitioner such as yourself.

      Please be well, friend.

      1. Thank you friend. Yes, it’s great to be mindful all the time, however aren’t there other meditation types to practice on other times? For instance ‘sathi sampajanja’ (IDK I hope spellings are OK for those words) or sathi pattana or metta, etc,
        I’ve seen such are much more beneficial, in daily life, if you concentrate well.

        However, the reason for our masters saying for that one need to be seated, is that if not it could damage the person’s back after some time of practice.
        However pls note that I myself don’t understand about being only seated all the time, and ask myself why only seated, if the requirement is, the back to be straight only, why not use other positions with keeping the back straight! something I’d like to hear a better reasoning than the ones I’ve heard so far and hoping I’d do soon.

        Btw most well wishes for your journey, it’s greatly encouraging to hear your dedication, keep on writing about it.
        Best regards!

      2. I’ve never heard anything about injuring the back in meditation, but there are a lot of things I don’t know so it wouldn’t surprise me entirely.

        There are other types of meditation, metta being the one I can name and am somewhat familiar with.

        If you like, you can visit the http://www.dhammawheel.com (Theravada) and http://www.dharmawheel.net (Mahayana) forums and tap into a vast pool of knowledge and experience from practitioners such as ourselves. Quite a few monastics also frequent both forums and may be able to answer questions more appropriately than I. 🙂

        And thank you. I will continue to share — you continue to practice! Be well!

  4. Thanks for the reply, yes Metta is a very easy and great type for daily use.

    I remember checking that site before, but it must have been under construction or I don’t remember it being a forum then. It seems a soundly beneficial way.

    I felt so happy seeing it. Thanks again for the link friend.
    .
    I will 🙂 . Happy journey to you, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

BuddhistPoetry

Now..... Free... Peace.....

The Art of Manliness

Contemplative Thoughts

One Man And His Mustang

A Classic '66 Ford Mustang Coupe v8 Full Restoration Guide

The Good Sit

An accessible guide to mindfulness meditation

Applied Buddhism

Applying Buddhism to Everyday Living

Lucas Henriksson

A Joyful Heart

Exploring Life

Be kind, be compassionate

Follow the Wheel: Journey of a Modern Wanderer

Camping, hiking, meditating, and philosophizing across America

Buddhist Global Relief

Worldwide relief funded by a Buddhist organization

Harmony In Motion

The universe in the form of a human girl

%d bloggers like this: