To grasp the power of calm, to really make it your own, you need to do two things, first, wake up to your daily thinking. In other words, start watching your thoughts. And secondly, stop identifying with it.
Why? Well, mainly because it produces a gap in your thinking, and in that gap you’ll discover the essence of your true power.
Ok, let me try and explain. So, when you start to watch your thoughts, you become aware not only of the thoughts but also of yourself as the observer of the thoughts. You begin to feel a conscious presence – a deeper self – behind the thoughts, as it were.
With this realization, the thoughts will begin to loosen its hold on you and steadily start to drop away. Because you are no longer giving power to the thoughts through identification with it.
This is the beginning of the end of unconscious and habitual thinking. And as the thoughts subsides, you will start to experience a break in the mental stream – a gap between thoughts.
At first, the gaps will be short, a second or two maybe, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain calm growing inside you. A Stillness.
This is the beginning of your natural state of calm, which is usually obscured by the cluttered mind. With practice, the sense of stillness and calm will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle happiness arising from deep within.
It is not necessarily a trancelike state. Because it is not about a loss of consciousness. The opposite is the case. I mean, if the price of the power of calm were a lowering of your awareness, and the price of stillness a lack of energy and alertness, then they would not be worth having. Don’t you agree?
No, in this state of inner calm, you are much more alert, more awake than in the mind-identified state. Only then are you fully present.
As you go more deeply into this realm of “no-mind” or whu-hsin, as this gap is sometimes called in the East, you realize the state of pure awareness. In this state, you feel your own presence with intensity and joy. And yet this is not a selfish but a selfless state.
It takes you beyond what you previously thought of as “your self.” That presence is essentially you and at the same time so much more than you.
With the gap in the mind stream you also become intensely mindful of the present moment. The reason for this is because your mind is now highly alert and aware but not thinking. Isn’t this the essence of meditation?
In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention. For example, every time you must walk somewhere, pay close attention to every step, even your breathing. Be totally present.
Or when you bath or shower, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your body, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you drink tea or coffee, focus on the smell and the taste, observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of calm.
There is one certain way by which you can know your success in this practice: the degree of calm that you feel within. This will guide you to not interfere, not judge—because the moment you judge you attach to the thoughts rather than just observing them. The moment you say “this is good, this is bad,” you have already identified with the thought process.
I’m simply saying that you can get rid of all this confusion created by the past in you. Just by being a simple observer of your thoughts. It takes a little time to create a gap between the observer and the mind. But once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the observer, the one looking.
Every time you create a gap in the stream of thoughts, the light of your awareness grows stronger. In other words, in the beginning you will experience moments where you see the gaps in between thoughts—after practicing, you become the gap.
And this process of watching is the very moment of enlightenment. That is the moment that you become for the first time an unconditioned, calm, really free human being.