There’s nothing like panning for gold. Last month, I was in a river bed in California with a gold pan in my hands as did many generations of miners before me, each seeking his or her fortune. On a whim, a friend and I decided to try our luck and have some fun. The day was bright and sunny as we waded through the glistening water. The ore flakes float as the sun rays reflect on them as we swished the stones in full anticipation.
When I think about it today, I recall the fun we had; but I also think about the immense concentration and focus gold panning takes. We barely spoke to each other during those few hours. Each stone needed examining. Each deliberate swish of water was needed to clear away the unworthy stones. We looked for the heaviest of all, gold.
At the end of the day, we both had to be pulled, no, yanked from our meditations because we had lost all track of time.
You see, it’s like that. When we meditate and focus on the self, that same type of concentration should be used not just to pull a metal from the waters but to discover the gold within ourselves.
So the next time you want to find the treasure that is within yourself, sit quietly in nature to help you achieve this mental attentiveness. It will not only refresh you, but you’ll look forward another moment to be with yourself. Priceless.
Is your day filled with continual background noise? Does your day go something like this?
You wake up in the morning with the alarm clock, turn on the tv, have your iPod plugged into the speakers while in the shower, grab your coffee and two bites of toast as you race out the door, hop in the car and blast the radio until you make it to your work-a-day world filled with commotion and stress, leave work and head to the gym so you can plug in your headphones and zone out on the thread mill, finally get home where yet again the television blares as you cook dinner, or not, eat in front of said tv and leave it on as you fall asleep.
When did you have the chance to sit quietly? Did you reflect on your day? Have you counted your blessings? Why not? Do you realize that this life is fleeting?
With all the commotion going on around you, it’s difficult to hear your own thoughts. Perhaps that’s why you can’t function without the noise to drown you out.
Think about this: You are the one you’ll spend the most time with in this life. Why not get to know yourself? Listen to your thoughts. Turn off the garbage around you and sit quietly for a change. You might be surprised at what you hear. You might find you’re good company. Take a walk without the headphones. Listen to nature. It’s cleansing. While an advocate of meditation, I’m not necessarily speaking of the misconception of mystic living right now. Meditation in and of itself lets one get to understand himself over time. To become self aware is only a small part of the goals of the act of meditation. It allows the quieting of the mind so one can become more aware.
Of course, I’m not asking that you plunge into this type of change all at once. Habits are hard to form. Take a small step today and enjoy some peace.
Turn it off. Listen to you.
Fall asleep without the tv tonight.
You’ll be glad you did.
Last time, I mentioned the unexamined life and looking within ourselves to find what we can eliminate or add in order to live optimally. After all, philosophy aims to answer the question, “how shall we live?”
Years ago, when I began to look within myself, I found much chatter going on in my head. My condition, one that most people suffer, is often called “the monkey mind”. It can be scattered and aimless despite its complexity. Some writers use the monkey mind for stream of conscious writing. It allows the chatter to become physical on paper. This type of writing is useful for brain-storming ideas. It’s also a tool that writers call freewriting, coined by Peter Elbow, which allows us to extract the brain without judgement in order to discover the gold nuggets our brains produce, especially when writer’s block occurs. The act of freewriting does have a side benefit. It can aid us to become less scattered and fragmented. Like journaling, once the thought is on paper, the less disrupting that thought is. It loses power. Thus, we can see that the mind would rather not be as unfocused as we allow.
Some of us use meditation to calm the brain down. Repeating Mantras or paying attention to our breath helps us to clear the mind of the chatter. Mastering our own minds becomes a sought out achievement. One way to look at is to try Eckhart Tolle’s suggestion and wait as if you’re a cat focusing on a mouse hole. You’d never know when that mouse is coming, but staring intently, waiting, waiting for the next thought. Try it by closing your eyes and imagining the hole and wait for the next thought. What happens?
Think of a time when something didn’t go as you had expected. Or, think of the days when there is so much going on around you, it’s difficult to think at all. These are the times we can center ourselves.
When I think of the chaos that goes on around me at work, commuting, or just my own thoughts, I realize I need to come back to myself. The real me in the midst of the crap.
I like to think of Thor. He’s a really cool dog who likes to play catch. He’s the type who while huddled in a closet in the midst of the raging storm outside still has a ball in his mouth wanting to play. More on dogs later… I know he’s just a dog. And dogs’ minds don’t work like ours. Thor couldn’t care less about the hurricane or the loss of a job or bill collectors for that matter. But wouldn’t that sense of calm be nice to have on demand?
Ok. Maybe the dog can’t help us achieve the calm in the eye of the storms of our lives. Let me provide another image. Lord Cutler Beckett in the second Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – He’s the manipulative mastermind of The East India Trading Company. Here’s a photo taken from wiki if you can’t recall this character:
In one of the final scenes of the film, Beckett calmly walks down the stairs of a ship that explodes with each step he takes after muttering famous last words, “It’s just good business.” Debris whirls around his face, but there is no sound save for background music.
You see, even though there’s a load of misery or shrapnel in our lives, a master of the mind, our minds, can breeze through it all. The next time your little ship on the ocean of life explodes, think of Thor 😉 ha, think of Lord Beckett and center your self. Cut the sound of chatter in your brain off. Play some music. Allow the junk to fly. It’s no matter. You’re still alive. Master your monkey mind and become the calm within.