Today as I meditate I am inspired by the Zen saying, “If you want a wild horse to calm down, you give him a bigger pasture.”
As I sit in meditation and observe the activity of my mind, it is easy to get drawn into a battle with it. I think, “I wish my mind were quiet,” and this desire becomes a catalyst for new thoughts and feelings. The theme that has surfaced most consistently over the last 24 days is acceptance. Resistance is desire. Acceptance is is renunciation.
So as I sit today, rather than will myself to be quiet or attempt to control my thoughts with force, I simply observe thoughts arise as they may.
I close my eyes and observe my mind. Thoughts and images appear as usual. As they appear, I recognize their position in space, occurring roughly within the sphere of my head. I then connect with the infinite expanse around me, surrounding me infinitely in all directions. By inhabiting this space I imagine the pasture of my mind expanded infinitely. My mind is the wild horse; the infinite expanse around my mind is the pasture.
From this perspective my mind and its thoughts now seem small and singular, as if contained by a much greater context. A specific sensation arises within me, as though by observing the limited power of my mind I no longer solely identify with it. I am not the wild horse, I am the pasture. I let the horse do as it desires, but with nothing to buck against and no one trying to control it, it quiets down.
As I embody the metaphor of “giving the horse a bigger pasture,” I notice that when I expand my awareness outward from from my body to create a bigger pasture, I can do this only to a finite limit. Because I am finite and the universe is infinite, I always encounter a boundary that feels like the extent of my consciousness, and beyond it feels other.
But instead, if I focus on feeling within myself the sensation of limitlessness, I find that my separate consciousness fades and I merge with the infinite ground of being already in existence in all places and things. This is my true identity, and from it the mind is no threat. It can do what it will; all else is infinite stillness. But precisely because I now identify with the stillness, the mind quiets of its own accord. I still in roaring stillness.
It is so still that I become eerily aware of my own body. My ears are ringing; my heart beats in my neck. Without relaxing consciously, layers of tension melt away. My breathing deepens into my lower abdomen. There is a sensation of being in the deepest comfort of sleep while being fully alert and awake. More good happens to the body in the absence of conscious instruction than ever happens as a result of it.
At the 30 minute mark, I feel a sudden tug at my heart center. I think of a close friend and wonder what she is up to. As this feeling subsides my phone buzzes; it is a text from her. The accuracy of this intuition excites me, but I let it go and return my horse to its infinite pasture.
I sit this way for 45 minutes. When my timer goes off I double check it – it feels like it has been ten minutes. The world speaks to me as I walk room to room in the house. I am stillness in motion.
The feeling stayed with me for several hours, and I slept a deep, dreamless sleep that night. As is awoke the following morning I had the distance sensation that I had been aware of myself sleeping.