Practical Practices of the Nothingness Mind

The practice of achieving a still, calm mind — anytime

We all have experiences with the state of ‘mushin’, or ‘empty mind’. Perhaps it’s just after we wake up in the morning, laying very still in bed. Or, maybe we drift into it as we watch the waves crash on a visit to the seashore.

But are these experiences simply isolated, only an occasional thing to somewhat haphazardly encounter as we thread our way through life? Or, can we find ways to extend these moments, eventually creating a continuous flow of inner calmness?

There are several easy keys to make continuous happen. First, we need to amp up our awareness of when it is happening, aware of the moments as they occur. Second, we need to decide whether want to have more of these experiences, not the same amount or less. And third, make it a deliberate practice.

Those times when my mind is so full of thoughts I can’t think.

Practice is made even more effective when we find ways to apply our practice in everyday life situations. This can be something as simple as cleaning up the kitchen, washing the car, having conversations, performing errands, or attending meetings.

Perhaps a more practical way of saying this is — if, upon awakening in the morning, my mind is still, can I at least try to move my foot, just a bit, and keep my mind still? And then a hand? And then two feet? And so on.

If upon feeling this state of mind wash over me at the seashore, can I maintain it — even if only for a short time — when I turn and walk back toward my car?

The main idea is to practice in ways that are within reach and do-able, however small and incremental they may appear. Otherwise, it’s not a practical practice. Because, practically speaking, those little increments add up.

This is how I was trained in Jiu Jitsu. It was incremental. I was never asked to do more then was within my reach. And because of being taught in what we sometimes called ‘digestible bites’, I was able to get consistent wins. Sure, they were small at first, but they were wins.

So this is who I am
And this is all I know
And I must choose to live
For all that I can give — from Immortality (BeeGees)

Aim for the small, incremental, do-able goals. Take great satisfaction in the small victories. Water wears down the stone. Baby steps count; that’s how they learn to walk.

And one other thing — don’t believe for a moment that this is out of reach, or only for the so-called ‘masters’. It’s completely do-able. For all of us.