What is Meditation?

Most of the time, our mind is sticky.

Imagine a lake in Summer. The lake is your mind. When leaves (thoughts) blow onto the lake, the water grabs them. Holds on tight. The leaf belongs to the lake now. In fact, as time passes, the lake begins to integrate the leaf. Absorbs it into itself. In a few days, the leaves will have made their way to the bottom of the lake. This is the usual state of things.

Sometimes the lake itself produces a thought. A bubble? And in Summer, the thought quickly rises to the surface, and erupts into the world. Sometimes we might even regret sharing that thought.

This is how the mind works: always sending thoughts into the world, and clutching perceptions from outside, making them its own. We might feel at the mercy of these thoughts and feelings. That we cannot control them.

Now imagine the lake in Winter. A perfect, still Winter day. The surface of the lake is frozen: a smooth, reflective sheet of ice. When leaves blow onto the lake, they slip across the surface. They stay a moment, then continue on their way.

This is meditation.

When the thought bubbles arise in the Winter lake, they float gently to the surface, and there, stop.

But it gets better.

The icy surface of the lake is not, in fact, solid. It is magical ice. When a leaf blows onto the lake, you can see it, notice it, and decide whether you want to let it in. If you do, the ice melts, just there, for a moment, and the leaf can enter the lake, on your terms.

Even people can walk on the frozen lake without falling in. You can see them, greet them, invite them in for a swim. Or not. They are safe. You are safe.

And those thought bubbles? As they float to the surface, you can see their reflection under the ice. You can decide whether you want to realize that thought or not. If you do, the ice melts again, for a moment, and you share the thought. If not, the bubble dissipates under the surface.

In the lake, in meditation, it is quiet, warm, soft, safe. There is space. To breathe, to notice, to float.

At any time, you can freeze the surface of the lake. It is quite simple.

Sit.

Breathe.

Notice your breath.

Notice the leaves. Notice the bubbles.

Don’t hold on to them.

Let them go.

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