As you read this, I am on a week-long meditation retreat. On retreat we maintain Noble Silence—speaking only when necessary. We don’t read or write for the most part, and certainly don’t listen to music or the radio or even look directly at each other. We minimize the sensory input so our minds have a chance to settle down.
Munindra, a teacher of many of my teachers, said “if you want to know the mind, observe the mind.” When we begin a meditation practice we are often surprised and discouraged by the constant stream of untamed thoughts we are observing, often called monkey mind. But if we keep observing, we begin to notice a background of peace, stillness, clarity. It’s like taking the stick out of the pond we’ve been stirring, letting the mud settle.
Once on retreat I told the teacher I felt like my mind was like a wild horse I was trying to tame and ride. Just when it seemed like the horse had truly calmed down, it would begin bucking and galloping. And then it would calm down again!
There are even more metaphors for this process we call the mind. Stay tuned!