On my quest for wisdom (Who am I? Why am I here? What does this life mean or how can I make it mean something? How can I be free and live my purpose?), which I – consciously, anyway – started in my twenties, I set out the conventional way. I read loads of books, listened to people I thought were wise, did traditional (cognitive) training. I went about it the way I was taught to go about anything: logically, rationally, analytically. I used my thinking mind.
It wasn’t until I took up meditation (when I was 40) that a whole new world opened up for me. My inner world, that I entered through silence. The world that would only open up if I sat myself down, stopped doing things, and managed to side-step my logical (and so often restless and/or fearful) thinking mind. Not silence it, but side-step it. I learnt that the thinking mind is not the gateway to wisdom.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with the thinking mind. It’s just limited. And it shouldn’t be ruling us – but it often does. Ever since Sting released his song ‘Let your soul be your pilot’, that has been my motto. All those questions I had – the soul knows. The thinking mind is very tied up with the body and the five senses – and therefore very survival- and fear-driven. But the soul sees the big picture, because it is not bound to space, place and time.
Oh and by the way, you don’t have to call it soul if that is too religious for you. Call it higher self, true self, spirit self, divine self, higher consciousness or simply inner wisdom – whatever floats your boat.
And this is why I am such an advocate of meditation – or meditative practices. Inner peace is not just that desirable state leading you out of the terror of ‘I must – I should – I can’t’. It is your gateway to soul wisdom.
And so if you believe that meditations or meditative practices are not for you, let me ask you:
Can you breathe?
Can you sit, lie down, stand or walk?
Can you pay attention?
So you can meditate.
You can be aware of your breath.
You can be aware of your body.
You can become present.
These are the three magic tools we ALL possess, that can lead us straight to inner peace.
O.k., with a bit of practice and some understanding of the why, the how, the cause of human suffering and the skilful way to deal with that (which, alas is not our default way).
At the end of this summer, I’ll be beta testing my new online zen introductory course. 10 live online classes (recorded, in case you can’t attend live) where you’ll learn the basics of zen meditation and philosophy. You can be in for as little as €147 euro – but spaces are limited so don’t be late signing up.
Information and sign-up link here.