Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It's a way of entering into the quiet that's already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day. - Deepak Chopra
I've been meditating on and off (mostly off) for a couple of years now. I wish I had a good excuse for letting my practice lapse, but I don't.
It's not that I don't have time, because I do.
It's not that I can't sit still, because I can.
The issue is my inability to keep my very rambunctious monkey mind from beating on the walls and making a ton of noise.
In other words, I don't do stillness well.
That's why I was stunned the other day when I tried meditating in the tub. I was trying to relax my muscles after a long day. The lights were off and a lavender candle was burning. I didn't get into the tub intending to meditate, but figured if I couldn't find stillness there, I couldn't find it anywhere.
I closed my eyes and attempted to still my mind, but it wasn't working. The factory that is my mind just kept spitting out its daily quota of the inane and completely forgettable.
Frustrated, I took another approach and deeply inhaled the lavender air and sat in the lotus position.
My mind continued to race, but I slowly became aware of something different rising up from underneath the noise.
I can't describe it, but it was unpleasant, as if my body was experiencing an inner pain I couldn't pinpoint.
My thoughts became accusatory, "Why can't you be still. You're just trying to get out of meditating by making yourself feel sick or something."
But the feeling wouldn't go away. As I sat and struggled with it, slowly it made itself heard:
"Dying. Of. Thirst."
Except for a cup of tea that morning, I hadn't had any water that entire day. Unfortunately, being dehydrated isn't rare for me. What was rare was actually feeling thirsty because I've become desensitized and am usually able to completely ignore my body's cravings.
Ironically, as I meditated surrounded by water, I was finally able to enter "into the quiet that's already there." Connecting with my body (which was clearly suffering) allowed me to respond and I immediately got out of the tub and gave myself what I needed.
That's all stillness is, really. Meditative quiet that allows our true self to speak and be heard.
Finding the stillness may not come naturally but, that one moment in the tub, inspires me to keep trying to enter that quiet place where the answers to our questions reside:
"What am I thirsty for?"
Have you ever been shocked by what arose within you when you quieted your monkey mind? Let me know in the comments below; I answer every one.
Originally published on debbiewoodbury.com.
Image courtesy of Dennis Wong.