I do not understand anything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].
Meditation is a very useful practice where one can learn to retrain the mind and break the habit of blind reaction. Often when thoughts arise we immediately react, even without notice. Physiologically our blood pressure rises, our body temperature rises, our breath gets short and shallow, and, at times, our pupils can dilate. Emotionally we may feel scared, angry, sad, happy, elated, fearful, etc. Typically, a thought arises and we react. Thought, react. Thought, react. And so our day goes.
Generally, when someone is first introduced to meditation the common response is, “I didn’t know all of these thoughts were going on in my head. I can’t stop them. They keep overpowering me.” Most of us believe we are being held hostage by our thoughts and, thus, are left with no choice but to react. We have far too long maintained…thought, react, thought, react, thought, react,…that we can’t see there is another way. Only until we pause for a moment, in meditation, do we become aware of this vicious cycle and create the know-how in reclaiming our power and breaking this cycle.
There is no magic to meditation. Meditation is simply the practice of awareness. You can sit on a cushion or go on retreat or learn a special technique but as Thich Nhat Hanh explains in his book Peace is in Every Step, you can do meditation while doing anything in life. In his book, Thich Nhat Hanh lists various daily activities that be done with complete awareness: eating a tangerine, picking up the telephone, and washing dishes. Meditation can be in every step we take throughout the day.
Today’s lesson is a variation of meditation which invites us to take a deeper step into awareness. As we look around at our surroundings, we let go of any past thoughts or assumptions and sit in our sweet ignorance,
“I do not understand anything I see in this room.”
If you can truly let go, you will see that releasing any need to know what anything is or what it is for can bring about a sense of freedom. How liberating is it to let go of trying to think you know everything and how something should be used? Today is the first lesson where I can say that you cannot take it at face value. This requires a little bit of willingness to let go on the part of the student,
“The point of the exercises is to help you clear your mind of all past associations, to see things exactly as they appear to you now, and to realize how little you really understand about them (ACIM Lesson 3 2:1).”
How often have you, or even myself, said, “I wish I could clear my mind?” Well, here is the answer. In any situation you may find yourself, just look around and repeat these words, “I do not understand anything I see in this place.” Watch how the mind and body relaxes. Yes, there is the potential that they mind may backfire and begin to say “yes, yes I do understand what this is, it is a person, and better yet it is a person who has harmed me in that past. So, indeed, I do understand not to trust this person.” This is where the lesson just got a bit more interesting and way beyond face value.
Even when emotions or past experiences seem to cloud what is in view as you repeat today’s statement, can you remain neutral? This is the practice for today. The Course will explain this more in lessons to come but for now, can you work on just clearing the mind?
“Some of the things you see may have emotionally-charged meaning for you. Try to lay such feelings aside, and merely use these things exactly as you would anything else (ACIM Lesson 3 1:6-7).”
As in previous exercises, be sure not to exclude or include anything in particular. Everything in view is fair game. Just let yourself relax and give yourself permission to be blissfully ignorant. Today’s gift can be a glimpse at full liberation, if you only just allow it. We continue our walk together understanding that we truly do not understand.