Ripples In The Water: An Introduction to Mindfulness
As children, we perceive everything as new. Fresh. Without preconceived ideas or notions. Making a splash in the water can be the the most fun thing in the world! Doing it this way makes a big splash! Doing it that way makes a loud one! Children, especially infants, are enthralled by novelty.
As we grow older, the novelty of experience wears off and we're more likely to take our lives too seriously to enjoy such simple pleasures. We fear that it would make us look childish. We have an image to maintain. We stay away from the puddle because our socks would get wet and we have a meeting to go to we're already late for. The list of excuses goes on and on.
Our mind makes its own splashes and ripples. Our brains receive waves of sensory information that create cascades of thoughts. What happens over the course of time is we stop enjoying the splashes and ripples and we begin to catch a glimpse of our reflection in the water. We become obsessed with this reflection and we rarely give ourselves time to enjoy the ripples again. We get caught up in trying to see a static reflection in a constantly-shifting waters. We grow frustrated. Even more commotion arises. At times life feels like waves are crashing down around us. Obtaining peace of mind seems impossible.
We can meditate for 10, 30, even 60 minutes in an effort to settle our mind, so that we may see our thoughts clearly. We can achieve great results with this method. But if our intention is an effort to see the image in the water more clearly we will continue to get flustered all over again and the cycle continues. When we shift our attention from the reflection in the water the water itself, how it moves, dances with the light, or the way it holds up a single leaf ever so gently, then we can begin to regain a childlike enjoyment of life. Life becomes vivid and rich with curiosities. The more we’re mindful of the ripples, the more joy we feel. We become full of amazement and awe.
The reflection in the water is only that, a reflection of our thoughts about the world. It is not the real thing. Nor will we ever be able to see the real deal no matter how long we look or settle. This game is a fruitless attempt to see that which is doing the looking. We quickly forget how much there really is to see and the game stops being any fun.
So long as we seek to settle the ripples and waves, they will never settle. The reflection no longer matters when we look at the ripples and waves for the simple sake of enjoying ripples and waves. We find our waters abundant with joys.