Just like that, the monkey mind surrenders, quiets, and falls into stillness.
This morning was the last official day of my "winter break" so I gave myself the gift of opting out of my 8am yoga sculpt class and instead decided to make this last Sunday a gentle day. I slept in, my husband brought me coffee in bed, and looked out over the fresh snow that had fallen over the foothills. It was peaceful!
Then I do what I always do that reliably disrupts that sense of peace and owning the day -- I picked up my phone. I began reading Peter Attia's (host of The Drive, my favorite podcast, https://peterattiamd.com/podcast/) weekly Sunday newsletter. The topic was on stillness and creating new habits in 2020 to embrace more stillness; in lieu of the constant intensity and striving toward goals. The notion of stillness really captured me this morning and gave me an almost desperate desire to achieve more stillness in my own life. My decision not to wake up early for my umpteenth yoga class this week was a good start. But as I began reflecting on the lack of stillness in my life, I sensed a desperate need to address this...like NOW (Quite the opposite of stillness, really).
In my typical extreme fashion, my mind began racing through all the ways I could bring stillness into my life: consume less content; stop listening to so many podcasts; device-free days, or shit, why stop there...device-free weeks; cancel all social media accounts; just go back to reading books by Philosophers, back to my days of Thoreau; get rid of email, well, maybe just limit it to 12-2pm each day; say "screw it" to real estate and corporate business pursuits and instead pursue a PhD in consciousness, meditation, and stillness. Yes! These tools will help me quiet my mind. My mind was racing to create stillness; the complete antithesis of stillness, as it tried to control the ways I could quench this craving for more stillness.
The humor of my contradictory behavior is not lost on me one bit. I indulged my monkey mind even more by opening up my email one more time. Ironically, I found some stillness. In my phone, of all places. It was an email update from Sam Harris regarding an update to his Waking Up meditation app that I have used on and off for the last year. (Off more than on over the last 6 months, if I'm being honest). A new meditation series had just been launched. I get these Waking Up update emails periodically and I normally just delete without opening, along with the bazillion other marketing emails that flood my inbox each day. This one caught my attention, perhaps just because of my state of mind this morning, and I took action. I figured reading that email was easier and more achievable than pursuing my Consciousness/Stillness PhD program passionately for the next decade (although, I'm definitely not wiring this off :-)).
So I sat down in my meditation and writing chair and proceeded to listen to 4 of the 5 new meditation sessions that were just released. 15 minutes in, my body felt abuzz with pure energy, an amazing energy that meditation brings to me. It's so opposite from the energetic sensations I usually feel, which carry a sense of needing to create something; striving to do something, and a somewhat desperate need to solve something. The energetic sensation that meditation brings is one of surrender, a physical feeling of vibration inside and outside my body, an ease and effortlessness, and a sense of love and compassion, of not needing to solve or figure anything out, but just embrace the wonder of the present.
The 40 minutes I ended up spending in meditation this morning quieted my monkey mind and brought the sense of stillness I was craving. Crazy enough, it didn't require a PhD program after all. Just a chair and 40 minutes of meditation to clear the clutter. So simple!
Side note: A new meditation studio just opened in Boise, The Source (https://sourceboise.com). I will check this out soon. I had two meditation groups I was attending regularly a couple years ago, in addition to a Buddhism study group. One was a Sunday guided meditation at Boise Institute for Buddhist Studies, or BIBS. The other was an early morning walking meditation group through Beginner's Mind Sangha. Both of them were great additions to my routines and I may add them back, but I'd like to explore some of the offerings at The Source. New possibilities this year.