Ronald May

Calm Mind

So, here I am at the end of summer and it has been so long since I wrote anything. The idea for this posting has been percolating in my brain since June and honestly, I should have written this then but, now I have to get this done because the season is waning and trying to explain the metaphor in Winter would suck.

However, winter could allow for a different visualization, perhaps utilizing snow. That’s for another time however. I am hoping this spurs a streak of postings because I can feel the ideas in the back wanting to come forth. Additionally I dislike when someone does not post often enough to keep my interest. My pursuit in this exercise is not singularly cathartic, it is also to pique interests of those reading it, which I believe is about………zero persons.

That said, let us begin.
I was trying to configure an appropriate way to explain how a mind, any mind really, can be active during a meditative session. There are lot’s and lot’s of types of meditative states that I shall hold off on explaing for the sake of simplicity.
It begins with a lonely galvanized bucket left out in the yard on a rainy day. The bucket itself is unaffected and cares little whether it is full of liquid or devoid of any substance. On this day however it fills with the life giving rain that so generously falls from the sky.

From the window of our home we can see the wash bucket as a symbol of our thinking process, always collecting, sometimes so full it seems to slosh and slow us down, other times half empty which allows a more rapid pace and quicker thinking. Empty……well, empty is light and very very useful for whatever our next collection in the bucket might be. But empty is rarely the default our buckets go to.
Have you ever left a bucket like the one seen from the window outside several days after a good rain? If not give a try. Warm weather is necessary and a few sunny days is all it takes to complete this experiment. Let’s imagine though that the bucket is empty for now and we can come back to our full bucket soon.

Many people, some who are expert and others just enthusists have spanned the ages selling and supporting the empty mind concepts. This is all intended for the betterment of humanity and so of course I am a big, big fan of the idea, but I am here to tell ya, it aint easy. Without some preliminary understanding of what our minds can and should be doing during the challenges of sitting with ourselves, there is no other way to explain clear mind than in aspirational terms

Each of us is unique in how we will sit, where, and why. So much of what we set out to do in meditation is aspirational and full of good intentions, until it’s not. What no one told me was that you do move past wanting clear or calm mind, but it is a process. It takes time, and requires a shift in your view of the world.

That shift may come as a split or it may come as a whole new way of seeing. Our culture put’s so much pressure on us to care about image and status (which could alone encompass an entire other blog posting)that we end up wrapped in thought’s and fears that are more illusory than necessary. For myself, I was not very good at splitting my time and breaking away from all that. So when I used to sit my thought’s would race about the past, present and future with very little slowing down.

When we can have the skill to engage the world as it is for eight to ten hours a day, but then create space for our thought’s to slow down when we are with ourselves alone. This is the height of a good practice and is possibly the best balance many of us can find here in the west.

A shift in worldview changes the whole sheebang though and obviouslythis has been used by experts and laypersons alike for centuries. My hope is that when a person comes to these valuabe realizations they share that through example, deeds, and words with as many people as they can.

Today, I feel I am as unrealized as I always have been, just a little older and a bit wiser. But, if you come on out and take a look at the bucket with me that has been outside for a few day’s now I will show you something fascinating.

If you carefully come up on the bucket with your shadow away from it you will notice a fantastic metaphor for calm mind. Mosquito larvae have taken up residence in the clean, clear water and they tend to slowly move around the bucket in a leisurely manner. A little this way, a little that. Up and down until a shadow crosses over the water and then it’s straight to the bottom were they wait until the light returns. They move fast to their hiding place and until the all clear there is little movement. Once the shadow is gone you will see them slowly and one at a time resume their movements.

I saw this myself as a kid and thought not much about it. As an adult it took me until I was almost fourty years of age to see this as the symbol of my mind in a meditative state.

As I sit down to begin I cast a shadow over the bucket of my silly, busy thought’s and I settle for a few moments. Once my eyes have closed however the shadow no longers covers anything and so each larvae can begin to slowly move, to rise and fall. To cross back and forth with no judgement of any kind. Just a sense of being and letting all that comes up exist and then go away. If it get’s too busy I can always cast my shadow again to settle things once more and observe the slow thought/larvae to begin moving again. I practice this over and over allowing the thought’s to come up and go down and believe it or not, when you do this long enough over the span of month’s or years, it get’s easier and you can really slow those larvae of thought’s down.

Anyhow, that is one visualization that I could recommend. The best way is to try the bucket thing youself so you understand from your own observation and experience what it is like, then maybe you can adopt it for your own. It’s fun and helpful for creating that space I think we are all looking to find a bit more of.

I wonder what kind of winter one I could develop. Would I need light snow or are we talking lake effect? Hmmmmm, the possibilities.

Ronald May
DOC #359444

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