Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


There is a way out

Posted on June 30, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – June 30, 2019 – 12:00am

The waters have gotten murky again. I guess it happens. Life has been a blur lately. That is why I have started to meditate again. Let me tell you how meditation helps me find some balance and how it clarifies a lot of things for me.

Meditation opens the door to calmness, compassion, and spirituality. Let me explain how.

If you observe your thoughts, you will notice that there is a constant stream going on in your head every moment of the day. It goes on practically nonstop. We are preoccupied with it. And strangely enough, we are often not even aware of what these thoughts are doing to us. That is how confused and busy our minds are.

I began to be aware of this when I started meditating years ago. Sitting still in lotus position and facing a wall for 25 minutes at a time without moving is my meditative practice. It was unnerving in the beginning. Doing nothing was uncomfortable. My body wanted to rebel and move.

And it takes time to quiet down and stop the urge to scratch, or stretch, etc. And your mind is always so active. Many thoughts keep coming in droves. You can get carried away by them. They can pull you every which way emotionally. You can have angry thoughts, happy ones — all kinds of thoughts that can make you feel a lot of different things.

When you meditate, you learn to calm your mind. You are discouraged from entertaining thoughts. You are asked to detach from them and just let them come and go without engagement. It takes a lot of practice to do this. Often you forget to detach and, before you know it, the thoughts completely occupy you. But the more you meditate, the more you can have control over them.

The mind is very busy and can easily take control over you without your knowing it. Often, I feel that my mind controls me more than I can control it. It is only in meditative silence that I can tame it.

In Zen, the noisy mind is called “monkey mind.” It is always actively and uncontrollably moving, thinking, analyzing, dissecting, plotting or trying to solve problems. It is always in conceptual mode. It is always creating scenarios.

What your mind wants to do is to make you identify with its thoughts, feelings and, in so doing, create your self-image. In short, it makes up an image for you to identify with. You begin to believe that you are what you think and feel.

Spiritual practices that encourage meditation address this quite well. Meditation brings awareness. By becoming aware that you are thinking, all of a sudden, you realize that there is someone else watching you grapple with your thoughts and feelings. SOMEONE is watching you. Who is that someone?

That someone is the Witness. It is watching you having these incessant thoughts. That Witness is a vast being that is way bigger than the one doing the thinking. This Witness is the real you. It has always been there even before you were born, and it will continue to be there even after you die. But you only become aware of the Witness when you awaken to it.

When you do awaken, you will realize that you aren’t your thoughts. Why? Because thoughts come and go. Neither can you be your emotions and feelings for the same reason. They are all fleeting. A Zen analogy compares your thoughts and feelings to clouds passing by. They arise and leave. And what is the Witness? It is the spotless, eternal blue sky that is forever untouched and aware of everything, especially the thoughts that pass by like clouds.

It is so important to practice self-awareness. It makes you present to your “here and now.” You are in the ever-new present that carries with it the full potential to be anything you want to be. You are not trapped living in the past that has come and gone or some imagined future. You are where you should be. It makes everything so simple.

Dis-identifying with things of the world can really make us feel free. In full awareness, we awaken to the reality that we actually already have everything we need. Yes. Everything you need right here and now is already present if you open your eyes. This is powerful spiritual stuff. All this can put an end to a lot of anxiety and fear. Here and now is a blessing in itself. Writer Eckart Tolle often asks the question, “What can possibly be wrong with the present? Nothing.” It can only go wrong when we allow the past and the future to contaminate it. Otherwise, it is always fresh and new.

Just a few minutes ago, I had breakfast. I honored the moment by paying attention to it. I noticed how wonderfully crispy the skinless longganisa was. The melons were so juicy I could hear the crunch as I bit them. The present seemed like it was unraveling; everything was transcendent. The breakfast was a big deal. When you are present, there are no little things. Everything is radiant. In contrast, haven’t we had days when we can’t even remember the last meal we ate because we were hardly there? What a world of difference being present makes.

Meditation is a great life skill, especially in this day and age. The only problem with it is that people do not do enough of it. In this world of instant this-and-that, it is good to know you can jump off the runaway train and sit somewhere and just watch the world go by. Meditation reminds us that we can live our own lives with clarity and purpose and not get stuck in the maze of wants, needs, desires, obsessions, addictions and anxieties. We are not stuck in a world that is getting more crazy every day.

There is a way out.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/06/30/1930549/there-way-out#Qt9EMpQdsgoApgpo.99

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