When you shake up a bottle of water with sand inside, the sand swirls around frantically until you set the bottle down. Then the sand slowly sinks to the bottom and the water gradually clears.
It takes a little time.
There is nothing you can do to that bottle of sand to make it settle faster. In fact everything you do, such as tipping it, inverting it, lying it down, shaking it, will impede the settling down.
The mind is like that.
Left undisturbed, it’s natural state is one of being settled down. The agitated sand is like our racing thoughts that swirl around. Shaking the bottle is like getting stuck in thinking that takes us into a low mood and keeps us stuck there. Going round and round with the same, stale old thoughts, keeps us stuck in the same stressful feeling state.
But once the sand settles, we realise what looked to be a bottle full of sand is actually a bottle full of clear water with just a little sand at the bottom. When we begin to look away from the swirling sand, we notice the calm, clear water, the stillness and from that place of peace and clarity, new thoughts, wisdom, arises and our world transforms.
Yet paradoxically you cannot settle your mind down by ‘trying’. It is an allowing not a forcing. It is easy, light, open and relaxed not tight and full of effort. The sand in the bottle won’t settle more quickly if you mess about with it. In fact that has the opposite effect.
Trying to make yourself settle down is like wading into the middle of a beautiful mountain lake and trying to smooth out the ripples you are creating by flailing your arms around in the water.
To let the water settle, you have to get out.
Get out of the water. Get out of the way.
Then you’ll notice how beautiful the water is.