Student:“ Zen is teaching us to quiet the mind but I can’t. I am always thinking about this and that, about the past, the future, my current issues, my work. It is non stop, even if I have being meditating for months!”
Our mind and its hardware component, the brain, are working 24/7 like your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc. Its 100 billions cells produce an estimated 60 thousands thoughts a day, probably more. You cannot stop it but, as we will see, you can learn to control your thoughts and emotions through the practice of awareness.
Contrary to our Western medicine, the Oriental one and Zen Buddhism consider Mind and Body as an unbreakable single unit in which each part affects the other one continuously and at different degrees. Body functions, thoughts and emotions are the jobs of our subconscious and conscious mind. If thinking does not affect our body, our emotions have great impact on it – automatically, continuously at various degrees. Being the material reflection of the subconscious mind, our body becomes also “emotional” even before this emotion becomes conscious. Here are 2 examples.
Anger, anxiety, fear releases significant stress hormones producing faster heart rate and breathing, sweating, stomach upset, muscle aches, nausea, allergy, stiff neck, and constipation.
On the opposite end, subliminal sexual arousal triggers physical manifestations.
A complete list will be provided soon.
Research has shown that all emotions, still at the subconscious level and therefore not yet perceived consciously modify immediately the biochemistry of our body and induce physical reactions, called psychosomatic. These physical reactions, acute or chronic, are automatic reflexes, out of our control and therefore unavoidable. They vary in location and intensity.
If these symptoms persist or are recurrent, medical checkup is required.
The word meditation comes from the Latin meditare, which is the passive form of the verb. It means “being moved to the centre”
Please note: it is not the active form that means “moving to the centre”
So, who / what is moving us? Meditation does. When we meditate we are being moved to the centre of self that is our own essence.
Sitting after sitting, learning to focus and paying attention to our body, breathing and thoughts, learning to let go, we become more aware of our own personal centre, more rooted to our genuine self. *
The simple fact of sitting still has far more reaching effects than we think.
When we sit still and pay attention, body and mind become one * in the present moment, aware of each other whereas, during the day, they are two strangers where one dominates the other. Then, with proper practice, at a given moment our state of mind becomes quieter, clearer and in control.
At this point, a great healing power can be achieved.
However, there is no quick fix. On going practice, discipline, patience, trust, perseverance, a non judgmental attitude towards our practice are keys.
* Genuine self and Body & Mind are one, are synonymous.
French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes wrote his famous “I think therefore I am” in 1637.
Is equating our identity with thinking and equating thinking with Being (I am) a delusion?
Is Being more than thinking? Can we be more than our mind and our thoughts?
Of course, to function as a human being would be impossible without thinking and our greatest thinkers are all considered genius in their own fields.
However, by totally equating our identity with our thinking and our thinking with the state of Being (I am) like Descartes did is probably a narrow understanding of what we really are and, probably a great delusion.
In other words, are our identity and state of Being (I am) more than just our mind and its thoughts?
As a Zen Buddhism practitioner, I would prefer to say this:
”I am aware therefore I am” or “Consciousness is Being” or “I am not just my thoughts nor what I think I am” or “Being just aware open the mind and an open mind does not produce delusions”