The trick, they’ll tell you, is to quiet the mind. They’ll tell you that as if quieting the mind were some simple task like turning down the volume on the car radio or banging a broomstick on the ceiling to persuade the upstairs neighbor to ease up on the Black Sabbath. Would that it were so easy.
There are times when you find yourself alongside a cool mountain stream, just like in the meditation tapes. The stream, real or imagined, is running cold with pure snow-melt, or maybe the contents of your week, endless thoughts tumbling over rocks. It’s so easy! Grab a thought, examine it without judgment, release it into the icy tumult to be carried downstream with the rest. Listen for a bird’s distant cry. Focus on your body. Track your breath.
I was co-leader of a mindfulness group once. Think about the many ways that such an experience could change your life, and my wild guess is that you don’t include the possibility of slowly eating a Junior Mint, savoring each second, each influenced taste bud, engaging every one of your available neurons in the experience of sensing a near-flavorless waxy coating melting away on your tongue, burning in your thoughts as intensely as an explosion or an orgasm or the birth of a child. Think about the many ways to change your life. Add a savored Junior Mint to the list.
Each day that I work I ride for a couple hours to get where I’m going, I spend hours unearthing the cacophony of thoughts competing for attention in the minds of my clients and in my own and it happens over and over in a big giant jumbled pile and suddenly it hits us both that we’re by the stream and that the thoughts don’t mean anything. Under the pile, in the whirling orbits of thought molecules, parsed from the remnants of the explosion there is a truth. The truth is the feeling. The feeling is the truth.
I tell people this, over and over, until I start to believe. Your emotions are your one truth. The constructions of words and paragraphs and excuses and histories are giant architectural wonders upon which we’ve collaborated. In the basements of these structures, in the boiler room, at the heart, there’s an emotional truth that we’re hiding. It is, as they used to say, what it is. And it’s always there.
When we sit beside the stream and wait for the truth to slowly bob along in the current, we miss the fact that the current is all that is. And someday, if we’re lucky, we’ll simply take off all our clothes and throw them away, and gently wade into the stream, and revel in the feeling of the cold as the water, unfettered by need for destination, takes us away.