The idea of just sitting around seems boring and a total waste of time. We’ve all got so much to do and not enough time to do it. Pedram Shojai asks: why sit around and waste such an already precious commodity that seems to be lacking in all of our lives?
Meditation is more than a technique – it is a way of life. It is a way for us to see the universe and hold audience for the millions of bits of information that are passing through our minds in any given moment. We can all relate to that. Noise everywhere, all of the time. So how do we get rid of that noise? We don’t.
We cannot make the noise go away. It is a reflection of all of the processes of life as the nervous system is firing and communicating with the body all of the time. To stop the noise is to stop life; to stop the noise entirely, you’d have to be brain dead. Last I checked, that isn’t a leading wellness practice.
So what’s all this talk about meditation and how it helps calm us down and stop the noise? Meditation is about accepting reality. It is about learning to observe phenomena come and go without reacting to them. To meditate is to maintain equanimity in all affairs and to watch circumstances come and go without getting mentally and emotionally attached to them. We cannot stop our minds, but we can calm them.
Meditation can help drive energy back to the parasympathetic nervous system which helps with digestion, immunity, sexual function, and, in short, the body’s healing and self-regulating capacities. It helps blunt the release of the stress hormone cortisol and, in turn, helps regulate the sex hormones and our stress response. This can help calm the body and mind and make it a lot quieter upstairs, though not all-together silent.
There is, however, silence to be observed. Music, they say, is the silence between the notes. Through meditation, we learn to see the empty spaces between our thoughts as they come and go. We can observe silence in the void at the bottom of a breath; we can see it in the stillness of the universe, which sits at the heart of all movement.
The universe is in perpetual motion. Everything is moving at all times, expanding and contracting simultaneously. Change is everywhere. Our fear of change is likened to us trying to fix our gaze on an object through the train window and freak out that it has left our visual field. We get up and run to another window to get another glimpse of it, but, alas, it will pass. Mourning its loss is the state of human affairs.
Finding stillness inside is about syncing up with the movement of the universe and moving with it. Only then can we smile happily on the train and enjoy the ride. We can let go of needing to fixate on objects out the window and go with the flow. When the first monk tells the other, “this is it”, he’s right. This is it.