More Periods, Less Commas (#851)

One of the great distinctions I’ve learned from the work of Syd Banks is between meditation as a practice and meditation as a state of mind.

Having spent many years pursuing that state through a variety of religious practices, new age teachings, and technological gadgetry, it was a shock to me when I first glimpsed the inside out nature of the human experience and recognized that meditation – a quiet mind and a beautiful feeling – is our natural state. We can think our way out of it in an infinite number of ways, but the moment our thoughts slow back down, like an electric fan coming to a stop after being switched off, we return to that place of inner quiet and insightful wisdom.

Not long ago, I heard a new description of this natural state of mind from some friends who came to visit.  They had  just come from an “intensive” where they spent a few days focusing on the thought/feeling connection – noticing that in every single moment we are living in the feeling of our thinking.

When I asked them what they got from the experience, they reflected for a few moments, and then replied “More periods, less commas.”  (Actually, they’re English and they said ‘More full stops, less commas’, but I thought I’d translate…)

When I asked them to elaborate, they said that what they were noticing was an absence of the running commentary on our experience that usually goes on in the background of our mind.

For example:

“I’m upset that they did that, and they need to stop, or else it means that they don’t love me.”

became

“I’m upset.”

And

“I am such an idiot, but that’s judgmental, I shouldn’t be so judgmental, after all I’ve been learning all these wonderful things about how the mind works, and I want to be a good person, but how does that work when I do something stupid, am I just supposed to sit here and not beat myself up about it and hope that I’ll magically learn not to be such an idiot in the future?”

became

“I am such an idiot.”

The resultant quiet they were experiencing in their minds was equivalent to having spent weeks on a meditation retreat, something both of them had done in the past as part of their search for a better and more meaningful life.

Why does any of this matter?

Because the meditative state of mind is the closest thing to a “magic wand” that I have come across in 25 years of exploring the human potential.  It heals the body.  It is the gateway to our deeper wisdom.  It opens us up to a world of deeper feelings.  It gives us glimpses into the nature of the universe.

Most people who understand its power have learned to access it through discipline and practice over time.  But when you recognize it as our natural state, there is nothing you need to do.  It is not only where you are sitting right now.  It is the one who is doing the sitting.

My fondest hope is that reading these tips brings more periods and less commas into your life.  Writing them certainly does in mine…

With all my love,
Michael

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