Put this in your minds eye: A gentle flowing waterway, a channel leading to the ocean. It’s about twenty feet wide, plenty deep with a constant, fluid movement steadily carrying whatever may come into contact with it’s surface towards the ocean. A feather from a molting bird, a leaf, a twig, gets easily cleared from the channel without disturbing it’s flow. The ease exists due to the consistency of the waterway being cleared. The clearing happens naturally via the flow towards the ocean. Debris enters the current, and a natural diligence moves the debris through the channel into the vastness of the sea.
After you have a clear mental picture of your channel, let that go for a moment as you switch gears from your minds eye to the writing below.
As we exist day to day, we have a part of ourselves, our mind, that lends us the capacity to successfully engage in this world. Our mind offers us ego, intellect, and thinking. Our ego is the part of ourself that warns us, questions us, makes us worry, and aims to protect us from experiencing consequences and discomfort through the avoidance of risk. It’s the part of you that says don’t sign up for the race, you won’t have time to train for it, you won’t be prepared when the day comes, you won’t be able to keep up, and you probably won’t be able to finish; don’t even register for the event or entertain it as a goal, because if you do, there are so many reasons you may fail, so many possibilities of what could go wrong. Ultimately, your ego says avoid the risk so that you may always be safe and comfortable. This is very necessary in certain terms. Like, don’t jump off that cliff just because it seems fun and interesting and because you’re curious of what’s at the bottom. The risk is very high and the consequence is likely catastrophic physical injury. Thank-you ego. Also, thank-you thinking and intellect for being able to determine that if I truly want to jump off a cliff to experience some sort of crazy rush, that I can totally do that safely and without dying due to other thoughtful, intellectual people who have similar desires to hurl themselves into free fall who have developed innovative ways of jumping off cliffs.
Taking into consideration the brief example above, I feel like we can all agree that our thinking mind is one of our greatest gifts and the ability to strategize, forecast, assess, create, and form opinions, not only allows us to be productive, these intellectual tools are downright required for navigating through life.
Though, there is an adverse effect of this highly evolved gift we’ve been given as humans: the lack of control over our mind, thoughts, and ego. Many of us can’t even decipher an awareness of the separateness of ourselves from our thoughts. Our thinking is so strong and constant that we lose clarity and focus and we begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed by our thinking. We let our ego rattle off a never ending list of what-if scenarios instead of just taking calm and diligent action one step at a time. In extreme cases, we begin to feel a sense of paralysis and many of us turn to prescription meds or self-pacifiers to temper our anxiety or never ending stream of worry and thinking.
What’s happening here, is our thoughts begin to clog up our consciousness. The thoughts, advice, and cautions of our ego added to the task lists our thoughts give us, plus the cognition of our ever-curious, observant intelligence is absolutely intense. It is a lot handle. The amount of goings on in our mind leads to exhaustion, confusion, and inaction, just to mention a few.
Obviously, the solution is not to stop thinking or shut down our ego, though. Without thought you would be equivalent to a tree; still alive and existing, maybe even with some sort of purpose; but you would have definitely lost the concept of the entire human experience.
What is the solution then?
Bring your mental picture of the steady flowing channel back to the forefront of your mind. This channel represents your consciousness.
The solution is diligently and intentionally clearing your channel often and regularly. Daily would be ideal. Without a routine maintenance of clearing the channel the whirlwind of our modern world acts as a storm, landing so much debris into the channel that it literally clogs up. Our daily reality translates to a channel filled with twigs, logs, millions of leaves and feathers, litter, lily pads, and any other foliage you can conure up in your vision. When we let this inundation of vegetation and litter hit our channel daily, without ever clearing it, our channel becomes unintentionally dammed up and the ability to flow disappears.
Think of the channel’s ability to flow as your ability to be efficient and effective. The easy steadiness of the waterway moving towards the ocean is the same as your ease in completing work tasks, running your business, making decisions, and taking care of yourself, your home, and your family. When the channel is clear, life flows;
it’s enjoyable, and there is a sense of ease and competence. When the channel is clogged everything feels overwhelming. When the channel is dammed up, you’re seeking relief outside yourself.
And that is what meditation does for you. It clears your channel.