Every morning I sit in my back yard and look out on acres of green space. It’s a clear view across my neighbor’s yard to a large pond where there are birds, geese, rabbits, bullfrogs, and the occasional fox. When I watch them, each seems focused and present in what they are doing, whether it is a quest for food, or as in the case of the geese, just being together. I assume this is because as animals, they are not battling chatter in their minds or wondering what to do next. They don’t fend off self-doubt or attach meaning to the way the breeze is blowing or whatever else might be happening around them.
Recently, on an early Sunday morning, I sat there watching and thought about how I’ve been struggling with owning my power lately. I give it away in my thoughts and actions. I get distracted from my goals by trying to please people around me, trying to gain the affection and admiration from others I’d be better off providing to myself.
Later, in that morning’s lesson, Dr. Chris talked about how to be a powerful person. Really the lesson was about the Six Perfections of Buddhism, but as he spoke about the Fifth Perfection, he advised that meditation was about developing concentration or the ability to control your mind. He alluded that this kind of focus can make you powerful in manifesting what you want in life. Controlling your mind is about clearing the monkey chatter, quieting your inner critic, and being present in the moment. It reminded me of my favorite Buddha quote: “Control your mind, or it will control you.”
As I listened to the lesson, I understood my recent difficulties with personal power were because I was living in a state of reaction. I listened to everyone else’s chatter rather than knowing and taking care of my needs and protecting my own joy. I was trying to control the things around me instead of controlling myself.
So when I got home from CSL, I went to my yard to meditate. It had been a while since I’d done it, and I didn’t feel successful at quieting my mind in past attempts. Also, I was always kind of going after something (typically, a specific answer), and my seemingly ever-present questions and anxieties would take over.
It happened this time too. I sat with my mind as still as I could make it, but I started asking questions to calm my fears and give the exercise meaning. Then, I felt myself block my connection to Source because I realized I wasn’t sure I’d like the answers I got. My mind started answering the questions for me, and I knew I was doomed.
I tried again the next day.
Thinking about the lesson, I knew I needed to work on controlling my mind. This was a shift for me since I previously used meditation to have my mind search for answers from my soul and my Source. This time, I wanted my higher-self to concentrate on quieting my mind, take power away from my thoughts, and give power to my stillness. I wanted to bring more of my higher self into my awareness without the undue influence of my brain chatter and inner critic.
So I sat again in my yard, eyes closed. To begin, I listened to the humming of the insects in the trees around me. I felt the sun on my body, my face, my arms, my legs. I resisted the urge to give meaning to the blowing breeze.
I heard my neighbor grinding something in his garage. “He’s always so loud,” I said to myself in obvious annoyed distraction.
Then I chose to ignore the grinding and focused on what else was around me. I heard a bull frog. I opened my eyes and watched a rabbit run across my yard. I watched the geese gather their babies back into the pond. I felt like I was watching life at its purest. Everything here was doing what was in their nature. It didn’t matter what I thought of the frog or what my mind called the trees – maple, oak, elm; they all remained steady and alive and true to themselves regardless.
In that moment, I understood my mind’s words have no influence on my true nature either. My true nature was as steady and alive as the trees. And, it was powerful. I sat in that feeling for a while, wanting nothing more or less than to remember my true self.
While the Six Perfections are meant to lead a person to enlightenment, I obviously did not reach it in one meditation sitting (what fun would that be?). I’d like to say I will instantly drop my need for validation from others, but I know the power of my inner critic and the thoughts it throws at me. I know I will need to be persistent with my efforts to control them. But in that meditation, I practiced directing my thoughts, controlling my mind, and remembering my true nature. I feel like I have taken a baby step towards the awakening promised in the Perfections, and I have a much stronger point of power to enter the world from.
And so ends another valuable lesson from CSL.