The gift of quiet and space is something some of us really grant ourselves and others of us take for granted.
Quiet time, whether it be the quiet of a house when everyone else is sleep or you're the only one there. Or the quiet of the world during the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning.
It is a time that many creatives, artists, writers, and deep thinkers can relate to best. It is a time when one's own thoughts can be heard the loudest.
Some love the sound of their own voice and others loathe it. For some the voices in their head sound like a sweet melody and for others it sounds like a berating parental figure.
I've been wondering lately about the concept of thinking. I remember about seven years ago a relatively well known man in the tech and culture space shared with me that he spent a lot of time thinking.
Initially, I wondered, how productive or useful that was. He was and still is quite successful and a pretty good person so I was surprised to hear him say this.
As I listened further, I realized his thinking was that of considering the worlds challenges and playing out various solutions, wondering about root causes, how they could be counteracted, or completely transformed. His thinking was of a constructive and creative sense.
I realized, for him, where for many their mind wanders replaying yesterday, wondering about tomorrow he went into a timeless space, completely outside of himself and pondered on solutions to some of his industry's greatest challenges.
As a meditation teacher I am often confronted with students that feel they cannot silence their thoughts or stop thinking. I teach Vipassana, a mindfulness meditation. At the beginning of each meditation class, specifically when there are new students I share the reasons this is the meditation I choose.
There are three main reasons:
1. Increases inner awareness. Mindfulness meditation creates the space for you to become present to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations going on within you.
As simple as this sounds, at times some of us are moving so fast that we aren't even present to are mental, emotional, and physical states. Sometimes quite deliberately so.
2. Trains the mind and body to make conscious choices in critical moments. The act of acknowledging and releasing thoughts, feelings, and sensations from main focus to refocus on the breath, trains the mind to notice subtle shifts and address them intentionally vs reactively.
3. Is a pathway to self-mastery. In a compounding effect, increased awareness, and conscious choices in key moments, leads to the ability for right thinking. Right thinking being deliberate, intentional, and conscious thinking that moves life forward and has our thoughts work for us and not against us.
Lately, I have been in the conversation of how I would like to close the meditation sessions. For some time I have ended with three questions, a variation of a technique I learned from my teacher.
Just this week, I chose a different method in which I planted the seed for in our pre-mediation movement. The former method, I liked because it seemed to allow insights and unanswered questions to become clear.
It was quite effective, in many cases. I am sure I will keep in my tool-belt for the moments they serve best.
However, this new method, (which I am sharing in my meditation classes and workshops), is designed to realize the third benefit during the process of 'leveling up'.
For, I recently realized an answer can only be given at the level in which it is asked - even after a beautiful mediation. So it may be necessary to level up emotionally, mentally, and energetically before asking a question.
The simple process of leveling up usually provides or vanishes the need for an answer within itself. Either way, if nothing else - the question changes.
Most simply, this is another layer of integrating one of my favorite quotes:
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein