It rained the other day, so I couldn’t resist pulling on my boots and whistling the dogs down to the river to check out the fall colors. Everything was drippy and beautiful. One must, in that situation, simply squat down and take it all in.
At my feet, the shallow water was brown and stirred-up from the downpour. Mud soup.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed a little more was visible in the river puddle. I could make out the fuzzy outline of leaves and a layer of blurred stones below them.
Eyes closed again, opening my senses, I could hear the call of Kingfishers swooping for fish and bugs. Further away the call and response of crows. The longer I squatted with eyes closed, the more I could detect- even the lone cry of a hawk acres away.
Looking down once more, aha!, the puddle had cleared. There at the bottom in high resolution were crimson, chocolate, and oker-colored leaves draped over glistening shale.
A whole new world was revealed beneath the glassy, clear surface. Little fish darting. Detritus dwellers. Even tiny abandoned snail shells.
I had to smile. Once again I had experienced the gift of stillness- CLARITY.
The jar represents the Mind.
When we shake it up, it gets cloudy. Worried thoughts, fear, anxiety, striving, judgement, greed, busy-ness… are just a few of the ways we stir up our mind.
It is amazing how much of our day is spent trying to make wise decisions with unclear vision.
Just like the river puddle, all on its own… when we pause, connect with our senses, and wait… the mud settles. Have you experienced this? You might be wrestling with a question or facing a difficult conversation or trying to come up with a creative idea. The more you splash around thinking and worrying… the more agitated the mind and the further you get from clarity.
But if, instead, you take a walk in nature, sit and observe the breath, stretch the body (all activities that bring us back to the present), voila! a light goes off and you see things clearly. And when you see clearly, you can respond wisely, instead of reacting from the “stirred-up place”.
There is a Zen saying, “Who can sit til the mud settles?”
Meditation ( paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally) allows our Mind to return to its natural state.
We do not have to add or fix anything… we simply rest, observe the breathe and let the mind settle on its own. The gift of Pausing is a kind of “homecoming”.
The mind, in its natural state, is always calm, clear, and undisturbed. And, like the puddle or jar of river water… there are treasures waiting when the mud settles.
So, slow down and take a look for yourself. Wisdom, clear-seeing, and insight lay just under the surface of a busy mind.