Friday, April 14, 2006

Seeking stillness

"You tell me to stand still, but I am not walking," he shouted, "whereas you who are walking say you are still. How is it that you are standing still but I am not?"

The Buddha turned round. "My legs move but my mind is still," he said. "Your legs are still but your mind moves all the time in a fire of anger, hatred, and feverish desire. Therefore, I am still but you are not."

-Majjhima Nikaya

Stillness of mind does not come easy to me.

My husband says I am a bit of a "Type A" personality: goal-oriented, serious, etc. In my pursuit of doing the right thing and doing it well, I tend to think myself into a tizzy. "What if...? If only I had..." You know what I mean.

In the last two years I have learned to recognize these twitchy, anxious "habit energies" (Thich Nhat Hanh's term) and steer my thoughts towards calmer, more wholesome thoughts. I still feel the habit energies, and feelings of worry and self-criticism still bubble up from time to time, but I have learned ways to control my thoughts, rather than let them control me.

Interestingly, meditation is a way to practice calming my native habit energies, and the more I practice finding stillness, I improve my zazen sessions and the overall level of happiness in my daily life.


"James" said...

We are on the same level these days. This post is similar to one I just posted on my blog.

That is so beautiful that you are finding ways to feel more peace throughout your days. :)

I bow to the Buddha within you.

Dharmasattva said...

Yeah, kind of cosmic, isn't it?

I thought of stillness last night because I'd just finished a very hectic week of negotiations in St Louis, MO on a $300M construction project. It's a real opportunity to get stressed out, and I try to use mindfulness, metta and breathing meditation to keep perspective.


"James" said...

It is indeed cosmic. Congrats on saying mindful in the middle of that storm.

Isn't it beautiful that we can stay calm in any situation if we are truly mindful? Such a awesome, peaceful path that we follow.