By Gary Townsend
Our society teaches us to produce, make, think, and do, but it doesn’t teach us to relax, reflect, and unwind— let alone “not do.” The commonly held belief that self-contemplation need not be taught is perhaps an egregious mistake. Can we really know ourselves if we don’t know how to take time to listen to our inner voice or explore that space of intuition that is the wellspring of creativity?
Cody’s workshop Healing the Mental Body helped me to step away from the mental noise, discharging the static of an active mind, and to practice techniques for clearing mental clutter from my personal space. The class allowed time to look inside, to recognize the innate self, and exercise intuition. As students, we redeveloped an inner space without noise, reconnected with our ability to regenerate ourselves, and took steps to break through the limitations of our mindset and controlling beliefs.
I took away from the workshop an experience, a knowing of a silent space free of mental noise and self-criticism, a place where I have the time to listen to myself and my own thoughts—a place I plan on revisiting.
There are many ways to still the mind while remaining awake, and the most effective for me are visual meditations. Why? Because when I rest my physical body, the only thing moving is my mind—a little immature, loud and impatient. These visual meditations give me the opportunity to learn how my mind behaves and to practice releasing over-thinking and apprehensive thoughts.
With practice, anyone can develop their capacity to still the mind and create that inner space. This ability to separate from our own mental processes is vital for living more authentically in today’s technology-driven, attention tug-of-war amidst mass media advertising.
I realized we are more than our thoughts. Descartes’ declaration “I think therefore I am” is an incomplete concept. When I cease to think and just listen, a sense of self emerges that is vaguely familiar—the realization that I am greater than my thoughts alone.
Our mental body, attuned to thoughts and matters of the mind, can admirably transcend spatial and temporal limitations. Inadvertently, it can create an almost overwhelming reality. Meditation is a tool to discover what the great mystics of many spiritual traditions did before us—the spaciousness and timelessness of each moment, and a path to our true self. On this path, we start to awaken, discover who we really are, and begin living from our deepest essence.
Gary Townsend is a teacher at True Insight in El Segundo, CA.