A Self-Sufficient Mind
Our mind is constantly trying to squeeze thought from neurons, but we can teach it how to rest
In a quiet room, we can find stillness. And in that stillness, we can contemplate our own minds.
What we often find is that the mind is very restless. It wants to take care of a thousand things, often because it’s feeling some uncertainty or fear. It wants to fix problems, take care of all the undone things, and figure out if everything is going to be OK. It wants to get all of our needs met, from survival needs to obtaining an understanding of meaning, connection, and love.
The mind is restless, wanting to fix everything and get everything it needs.
What if we could allow our minds to rest, settling into the full sufficiency of itself just as it is?
We would need nothing in each moment, other than what’s required for physical survival or meaningful daily activity. There might be a wholehearted desire to do some good for ourselves or others, but it doesn’t have to come from fear.
There’s a tranquility that can come with this kind of practice, a feeling that we’re enough and that everything we need is already inside us.
It’s a lifetime practice.
Here’s how I recommend starting:
Sit in a quiet spot. Elevate your hips above your knees with a cushion to give yourself more stability and comfort. Sit in an upright but relaxed posture. Your eyes can be closed or slightly open with a soft downward gaze.
Find stillness. Stay in this spot for at least 5 to 10 minutes, longer over time if you like. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but when you feel restless, stay for a little longer to practice with this restlessness.
Rest in direct experience. Let your attention turn to the sensations of your body: the sounds, smells, and sensations of your present moment. These sensations are direct experiences of the world. Rest your mind in this open awareness without doing anything but witnessing it.
Observe the mind. Your mind will want to turn away from this direct experience. That’s because it feels unsettled. It wants to get its needs met, fix problems, or deal with uncertainties or fear. That’s OK! Watch the mind do its thing. What is it trying to fix? Notice the underlying fear or desire as the mind tries to do its thing.
Appreciate the luminous quality of the mind. It’s like an energy, trying to spin thought and feeling into existence. It’s unaware that it’s already brilliant, abundant, and enough without creating a single thought. It’s luminous and beautiful. We can start to appreciate these delightful qualities of the mind. This takes curiosity, appreciation, and practice—a lot of practice.
Go, sit, and practice observing your own mind. The journey inside is the most important one you will take.
By Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta is the author of six books and the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers. Visit ZenHabits.net
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