just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Dedicated Time to Still the Restless Mind

Published on 31/03/16
by randy


The mind trained in stillness has raised awareness to balance. We’re pulled from balance with feelings and thoughts of dissatisfaction. The mind at peace in the moment, freed from thought and images that remove us from awareness to the moment, will generate more balanced action. It may be one of the more important actions we can take in feeding consciousness. The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. Putting attention and perception to the nonverbal, pre-thought experience has been shown to improve awareness and raise consciousness. The social, biological and mind/body benefits from this disciplined practicing of stillness have been dramatically documented in recent research. Ancient cultures have been aware of the positive benefits of collective breathing and/or toning. The focused awareness on direct experience before thought/image settles the mind from all of the linguistic chatter that stirs us up. This practice has a harmonizing impact that fosters collaboration and communication over violence and attack. It’s a practice that feeds one’s strength to embrace uncertainty with an open mind over fighting to persuade another from the closed mind.

These minds are beautiful. The brain alone has over 86 billion neurons. The digestive system has trillions of living microbes. What we’re learning today about the microcosm and the macrocosm must humble us all to how little we know. And our minds are continually working to figure things out, to make sense of what’s happening, and to create a story that works to relieve our restlessness. Yet, real peace comes when we can surrender in stillness to the moment. It comes when we can just let go to the ground of being. This letting go requires practice because our linguistic brain is continuously feeding a monologue that’s impossible to stop. Yet, this awareness training increases our sensitivity to this chatter. The more we practice the sooner we recognize how we’re being carried away by these thoughts. The less time needed to observe these thoughts, the more we can extend our experiences into the nonverbal.

Why is this important? In addition to the physical and mental health benefits that come from training the mind in stillness, one’s attentive ability is dramatically increased. Perhaps the most important skill in life is to love. Many would define the key element of love as attention. The greatest gift we can give to another is our undivided, focused attention. Yet, how often have you truly been listened to? This type of active listening is rare because it too requires a great deal of practice and training. Most of us are rehearsing a response to the person speaking. A multitude of judgments and comparisons may be coming up. We’re built to try to make sense of another’s experience from our limited experience. Yet, no one can have your experience and you can’t have their’s. We can only have our experience of what we gather the other person’s experience to be. And so it goes with them. If we’re both really good listeners, we come closer to understanding. All to often, our distracted minds have us taking turns in our narcissistic monologues, totally missing the mark on the meaning the other was really driving at. I suspect this is why we focus today on superficial topics like the weather, sports teams, our toys, and gossip about other people. Yet, we’re all craving attention to go deeper, to be listened to in a safe and supported environment, free from attack and persuasion. That’s the real power in training the mind to stillness. Essentially, can I hold ground in a groundless situation, can I ‘just be’ in the face of turbulence and attack, can I hold a balanced posture when the earthquake happens? This is what I call ‘response ability’ as opposed to unbalanced reactivity. It’s what leads us to actions we can look back on and say we’d do it again in clear consciousness. It’s action that’s solid, grounded in the Golden Rule, and leaves the world a better place.

Today over fifty nations meet to discuss how to better keep nuclear materials from threatening states and individuals. It would be my hope they could all sit together in stillness, collectively breathing, touching their gratitude for the opportunity to participate…to just be. It’s my hope that this process would increase their sensitivity to the gravity of the situation. Today’s nuclear bombs make the Hiroshima bomb look like a firecracker. Even the smallest regional use of a nuclear warhead would hurt us all by depleting the ozone layer, global black rain, and a dramatically impacted food supply. To me, the only human response to nukes is to recognize their lack of utility and move forward once again in dismantling them. I recently recalled a cartoon depicting aliens from another planet viewing life on earth. A fellow alien asked if we had intelligence. The reply was, “It seems they do. They have discovered fusion and atomic energy, however, they’ve developed bombs and they’re pointing them at themselves.” We ultimately come to see how precious life is and how we’re all connected. Hopefully we have the sensitivity and awareness to realize this before it’s too late.  It’s my experience that training the mind in stillness leads to more “response able” actions.

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