Stillness – Free Mind

moonreflectingWater Reflecting

I listened to a lecture by Thich Nhat Hanh some time back. He talked about being ‘water reflecting’ when we meditate. He described how when there is activity in a lake, the ripples make it hard to see the reflection of the moon. Only when there is stillness is there clarity.

I’ve learned that I don’t need to be in a meditative state to enjoy the benefits of clear thought. To me, the discipline of Stillness means setting aside an unbroken chunk of time where I put everything down- physically and mentally. I put down my work, and let go of whatever I’m processing in my conscious mind. Whatever it is that I find in there, beneath what was foremost in my consciousness, I acknowledge it and relinquish it for the time being.

Free Mind

By letting go of everything that’s going on inside and outside of me, I become free from the thoughts that bind me to the moment, and to my Self. I also become free of the thoughts and feelings that were undercurrents in my mind, pulling me this way and that without my conscious awareness of it.

Stillness is the practice of achieving a starting point for clear thinking. It doesn’t mean forgetting what was on my mind. If anything, as I relinquish the thoughts and feelings beneath the surface of my conscious processes, I become more aware of what’s really going on with me, and what I’ll need to process later.


After relinquishing the need to work on or process anything in the moment, I am ready for whatever one thing I need to attend to. I am ready to meditate. I am ready to study. I am ready to contemplate. Whatever I do after I have achieved stillness, it will be with a clear mind. I will be able to take it all in, without the mental chatter, and as a fully aware person.

Even beyond my own needs, Stillness allows me to be fully present for other people. It’s like putting down my smart phone when someone is speaking with me. There are fewer distractions in my mind keeping from really hearing them and attending to their needs. It is as easy as taking a few minutes to disengage from an activity before sitting down to talk with someone. Or letting someone get my voicemail so I have a minute before calling them back.

Pausing Helps

Sometimes I don’t realize how much is going on upstairs until I pause for a moment before making a decision. When my thoughts or feelings are at all confused on a matter at hand, I know I need to reset and get back to the starting point of a free mind before I make any decisions. If I don’t practice pausing, it’s easy to be swept along by everything that’s going on beneath the surface of my conscious thoughts. In the past, in my busy life, often times everything I saw and decided was distorted, passing through so much mental chatter, through whatever I was working on, my preconceptions, subtle feelings…

Every day I try to practice stillness. It has helped me to become more aware of myself, what’s going on inside me and around me, and it has helped me to be ready for whatever comes next in my day.


4 thoughts on “Stillness – Free Mind

  1. The action of true meditation has always alluded me. How often do u practice stillness? Maybe I’d find that more doable.

    • I usually stop and put everything down, practicing stillness, at least once a day, sometimes more depending on how much I have going on. I also try to practice it more when I’m hypomanic/manic.

      I usually find it really necessary for me, personally, by afternoon. It’s like ideas and images pile up and don’t find their way out of my consciousness on their own. I might not be fully aware that their still floating around upstairs but they still effect me.

      My mornings can be pretty busy, so I have a lot going on upstairs by lunch. The need to stop for lunch forces me to disengage from my activity and I can usually sense that I need to ‘reset’. Sometimes, If I have a big project on the go, I’ll stop in the middle of my work, even in the middle of the morning, and get still for a bit before continuing.

      I usually meditate mid-evening, and I spend a time letting go of everything from my day before my meditation session begins. I have a hard time meditating for long periods of time, but actively acknowledging and relinquishing everything going on with me beforehand helps a lot.

      What kind of meditation do you do? I try to do mindfulness meditation, but I’m finding that I don’t need to be ‘on the cushion’, and idle, to practice mindfulness. I’ve been trying to use listening to everything around me to bring myself back to the present and to what’s going on around me, then I check in with all my other senses to try to have a more RICH experience of the moment. I might be walking down the street, or chatting with someone- whatever it is I’m DOING, I find it easier to mindful then rather than on a cushion.

  2. I am reading “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh at the moment. It’s the first of his books that I have read and I am really enjoying it. I love his writing style and his calm “Anyone can do this” approach. Mindfulness is a great way of combating depression by taking control of what you are thinking about. The things you mention here are clearly related too, I will read this a few times. Thanks.

    • I have learned SO MUCH from Thich Nhat Hanh. I first heard about him from Kozo at Everyday Gurus… Actually, I get exposed to a lot of great stuff by Kozo.

      I find that mindfulness helps me when I’m depressed by getting me out of my head. A little harder to beat myself up, catastrophize. etc, when I’m out here, listening to you, engaging the world. It keeps me connected to the love of others, the beauty that is all around me, and keeps me aware of all that I have to be grateful for.

      I listened to a couple of audio books from Thich Nhat Hanh over and over – Art of Mindful Living and Being Love. Great stuff.

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