Thursday, September 24, 2009
The Joy Diet - What about nothing?
I'm still waiting for the joy in nothing. While I've been able to practice nothing most days, I have not felt joyful about it. I will keep at it. Patience, patience, I tell myself.
Patience is something I offer quite easily to other people, but with myself I often want the answers now. I have a sneaky suspicion I need to be compassionate with myself, persisting with the practice until I reach a point where I can feel the joy in doing nothing rather than approaching it with dutiful compliance. Hopefully, as the weeks of practice accumulate, I’ll find ways to get in touch with that empty space with a greater sense of peace and joyfulness.
One of the techniques I’ve found really helpful is one I picked up from one of Eckhart Tolle’s books: to be like a cat watching a mouse hole patiently, curious about the next mouse to appear. When I wait for the next thought to appear, it paradoxically takes longer to come. More nothingness between the mind-chatter!
Because I live in a noisy city, my mind can get snagged by sounds in my environment, taking my thoughts along on a train ride that carries me great distances, hopping from car to car, before I realize I was supposed to jump off that train of thought miles ago. To try and remedy it, I pretend I am surveilling my mind from a dark room (or van) with lots of monitors in it. When a sound or a thought enters the picture, a small light or screen corresponding to that impulse lights up, then goes dark. I don’t label or analyze any of the thoughts that light up the monitors, just notice that something lit up and forget about it (hopefully).
So far, I only skipped one day this week and I found that the next day’s meditation was more difficult. It almost seemed as if the backlog of mental noise that hadn’t been released into the “waterfall” was now damming up the works. Perhaps that is one of the values of practicing daily?