Meditations on Emptiness

I meditated this morning and it helped me realize the stillness that I read about yesterday in Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday and saw in the documentary Free Solo.

I usually meditate when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to get my shit together – or if I haven’t meditated in a long while.

I use Trello to try to prioritize my work.

Meditation helps me cut the noise, the frazzled thoughts in my head. You know when your brain is going 10,000 miles per minute, hours or days on end? When your to do list has become like 20 items and you’re kinda freaking out about all of them?

When I meditate, I see all the things that are bothering me, on my mind, and I let them go. It’s strange but it’s a release. Just noting that they’re there, that I feel anxious about this because of this, that’s enough to release that tension for that in my mind. And if I can do enough of it, I find myself in a different place in my mind.

It’s like I can see the stream of consciousness in my mind – different colored fishes of all sizes swimming through a clear waterway- and that waterway and those thoughts are my mind.

The true me.

Not the things that were bothering me or I was anxious about – news and concerns outside of me. All the fishes in this new level are purely internal not external.

It kind of feels like when you’re falling asleep – you know that stream of consciousness you have where you can see your thoughts before you drift into a dream? It’s like that but you’re still awake and you’re very still, just in your head.

I think it’s different from the type of focus in high performance though- what some people call flow. Like when people are executing their craft at a high level and are purely focused on exactly one thing. It’s weird but I think it is the same intangible muscle. The same muscle that can bring you into killer flow and focus is the same muscle that you release to get to stillness. You’re still at both sides of the spectrum, in your mind, but one end is pure focus while the other is relaxed. Or I could be wrong – I guess it’s more like you grab a fish and you can stay with that task for hours on end without distraction because you can- all the other fishes don’t matter. So I guess it is the same thing.

Anyway when I meditate and get to this place, it helps me figure out what’s actually important to me. It’s strange because when I’m in this place, I’m at peace. For just 5 or 10 minutes of that day, if I can get there, maybe I’m in the place people call zen. And it’s strange because it’s the things that aren’t there that helps me realize what is actually important. And that peace tastes like gold, maybe even divine, at least compared to the anxiety I started with.

I still have a shit ton of meditating to do because I still don’t have answers for the tough questions in life or what to even do with this knowledge. Reading Taoist texts are a constant reminder of what the fuck, I clearly know nothing, I am not smart, I am nobody.

If anyone has no idea what I’m talking about there is a page in the Daodejing about emptiness:

We mould clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

Lao Tzu

I highly recommend reading the Tao Te Ching (or the daodejing). I really enjoyed Ursula K. Le Guin’s translation.

I just started The Art of War and I was pleasantly surprised that it was from the same lineage of thought. I will probably read the I Ching (Book of Changes) after.

If you like mind fucks, I highly recommend the koans in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

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