Visualizing a calmer mind

One way to tame a wild and overly active mind — a monkey mind (see "Taming the Monkey Mind" earlier in this chapter) — is visualization. Visualization is when you close your eyes and go on a mental journey as a means of calming your mind and achieving a quiet, meditative state of self-awareness. In effect, you become the producer of your own visual effects — a sort of director of your own mental movies. The idea is to reach a state of deep relaxation and focus.

The object of the following visualization is to discover a refuge of calm and quiet within yourself. You need at least 10 minutes for this visualization. Lights, camera, action:

1. Lie down or sit comfortably in a quiet place.

Do your best to find a place where you aren't bothered by cell phones and other distractions.

2. Notice the tip of your nose and the coolness or warmth of each breath as the stream of air flows in and out of your nostrils.

3. Keeping your attention on the tip of your nose, feel the sensations of your lungs as they fill with air and then empty themselves of air.

Focus on your lungs for at least six breaths.

4. Imagine that the innermost center of your body, from your hips up to your shoulders, is a deep pond.

5. View this deep pond in your mind and direct your attention to the surface of the pond.

6. Notice the currents or waves on the surface of the pond and look toward the sky, above the pond in your mind, and observe any clouds.

The clouds represent your emotions, and the surface of the pond represents your thoughts. In the next several steps in the visualization, you sink deeper into the image of the pond and distance yourself from your flow of emotions and the activity of your thoughts.

7. Visualize dropping a pebble into the pond.

In your mind, follow that pebble with all your awareness as it sinks deeper into the pond. Breathe in and out calmly and quietly, remaining aware of the tip of your nose if doing so helps you breathe more calmly and deeply.

8. As the pebble continues to sink (which represents deeper levels of your awareness), feel a sense of your own depth, the calmness within you, and the stilling and quieting of your mind as the pebble falls into deeper waters of inner knowing.

9. Imagine the pebble coming to rest on the bottom of the pond.

You're at a point of restfulness in the depths; dwell here for as long as you want.

10. In the role of an observer, step back from this visualization and notice that you've taken your mind and thoughts into deeper waters.

High above, the clouds (your emotions) are still alive and well, and the surface of the pond (your thoughts) is still ripe with currents and activity. Down in the depths, however, you are still and quiet. You've discovered the deeper well of a steady mind and calm deep within you. This state is known as equanimity, when the mind is calm and aware.

Dwell comfortably and securely in this place of calm for as long as you care to remain. Remember: This place of calmness is always there waiting in case you need to visit it.

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