Settle Down? Down Where?
Have you noticed how busy your mind is? I have. Although I’ve learned over the years to pay less and less attention to the noise.
I like to think of it as being the DJ of my own mind, adjusting the volume, paying more attention to the tunes that I enjoy, and skipping over the sounds that are jarring and unpleasant. As best I can.
Maybe you have a formal (or not so formal) “practice” that allows you to settle down; you meditate or walk in nature or rock climb or paint or have some way of your own where your mind gets quiet.
When the content of your mind is not in the forefront of your awareness, your body gets a much-needed break. Those pesky stress hormones stop being produced, your breathing slows down and deepens, muscles start to soften and relax.
Actually, it’s not that you do anything to your thinking - you just pay less attention. You notice your thoughts but don’t grab onto any of them for further scrutiny.
When I’m in the presence of something “bigger” in that moment my thoughts seem puny and insignificant. I may bet captivated by a beautiful landscape, or watching a sunrise, walking the beach, listening to the birds or looking at the stars. Sometimes it’s looking at a piece of art or getting transported by music.
Everyone has something that stops them in their proverbial mental tracks.
There are times when I'm just sitting still with a cup of tea and noticing what’s around me. Without any judgment or qualifications. Just letting my senses take it in.
Is there a place we go when we settle down? When you take your attention off mental distractions, do you actually go anywhere?
Where is there to go? That quiet place beneath the noise isn’t outside you. It’s inside you, always has been. It never goes anywhere. Why? Because it's who you are.
But it can be overlooked. And for most of us, it often is. Especially when our outer circumstances look scary or overwhelming or confusing.
When I let myself become still, I’m aware of being aware. There’s a presence I can feel that’s been with me my whole life, so close to me that I take it for granted. Maybe that’s why we all feel that somehow, who we are on the inside has never aged.
And if I'm present to this presence, I can begin to describe it. Quiet, really quiet. It feels like it’s animating me, breathing me, holding me. Not just a witness to what is but what actually is. Peaceful. Welcoming. Connected.
That may sound a bit esoteric, but haven’t we all had moments where we’ve felt something similar? When we let go of our preoccupation with external drama, we can find rest and renewal in this awareness.
It may be a bit too much to want to be fully aware of this awareness on a moment to moment basis; after all, we are human.
But knowing we have this knowingness within us can provide the reassurance and encouragement from which we can go out into the world and do whatever it is that’s calling to us.
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