Meditation To Still The Mind

Photo by Bernt Rostad

This meditation involves a visualisation component, which allows you to let go of thoughts and curb the mind noise you may have.  This is a great meditation to increase focus, calm your mind and develop a greater sense of alertness.

This was a meditation that I learnt at the age of 15, when I was learning martial arts.  The idea was to get to a state called “mushin” – a Japanese term which means “no mind”.  It is a state where no emotions or thoughts are present, and as a warrior, one acts without hesitation which may come from thoughts and emotions.  The warrior is an unthinking, unfeeling being, doing what should come naturally to a warrior – defeating an opponent.

It’s interesting that one of the most beautiful meditations I’ve ever learnt, can be used to create some of the most amazing warriors, capable of a death strike with no thought, no hesitation, no emotion – no anger, fear or ego.

It’s origins are in my ancestral language of Sanskrit, where it is referred to as “achitta” – which really does not have an English equivalent but would be closely translated as “no consciousness” – referring not to being ignorant, but just existing without thoughts.

The state of “mushin” in modern pop-psychology would be referred to as being in a state of “flow”.  Again, describing it is a bit tough, but it’s an experience of freedom, no attachments and just pure being.

This meditation is to give you the introduction to the state of “mushin”, from which you can focus on a particular goal with alertness and serenity.

Step 1: Preparation

Turn off your mobile phone, let everyone in the house know that you don’t want to be disturbed, and divert your home phone to voicemail.

Make sure that where you meditate there are no TV’s or radios turned on.  Make sure that your computer is turned off so that you’re not distracted by the light or the sound of your instant messenger or incoming e-mail alerts.

It would help if you had a clean environment, so tidy up and keep it tidy for your future meditations.

You may wish to light a candle, in which case I would suggest that you don’t light incense or any fragrances, as these can be distracting.  A simple tea light would do, but this is completely up to you.

Step 2: Entering the Meditative State

Sit down in a comfortable position of your choice.  On a chair, pillow, on the floor – it doesn’t really matter, just be comfortable.

At this point, you should lightly close your eyes, and relax your body as best as you can.

Take a deep breath in for the count of 2 and make sure that your lungs are at capacity, and then breathe out for the count of 2, making sure that you’ve emptied your lungs completely.  This counts as one breath.

With every breath, feel your body progressively relaxing further, starting with your head, then your neck and shoulders, your arms all the way down to your finger tips, your chest, solar plexus and back, your thighs, knees, shins, ankles, feet and through the tips of your toes.

If you feel the need to visualise to give you a focal point, then I suggest that you visualise yourself rising out of your body and observing yourself meditating, noticing how with every breath, your relaxation is increasing and you’re going deeper into a meditative state.

Step 3: Still the Mind

If you were visualising yourself relaxing, return to your body.  Focus your attention to your third eye chakra – the central point in your forehead between your two eyebrows, but slightly higher.

Look out from your third eye chakra, and see a deep, blue lake.  All your thoughts will surface on the lake as ripples.  Every thought you have, acknowledge it, and let it go.

Don’t think about the thoughts, but see them as ripples on the lake.  Every thought that comes, just acknowledge it and let it go.

As you keep doing this, your thoughts won’t exist as thoughts, but will just appear as ripples on the lake, which will appear and then fade away.

When the lake is completely calm and without ripples, like a mirror, you have reached “mushin”, the state of no mind, the state of pure existence and being.

Stay with this stillness, until you intend to return to consciousness.  You can keep the state of “mushin” in place – just observe your thoughts coming and going, as ripples on the lake.

Step 4: Returning to Consciousness

Breathe in again for the count of 2 and ensure your lungs are filled, and breathe out for the count of 2 and make sure you empty your lungs.

Do this 5 times in total, and progressively remove the relaxation and return the movement back to your body.

Return movement, starting with the tips of your toes and rising to the top of your head.

Let your breath return to normal, and count backwards from 5 to 1, knowing that when you open your eyes at the count of 1, you will be calm, focused and alert.

Sit for while, and then stand up slowly, and stretch.

Return to your day, calm, focused and alert.

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