Questions about how to quiet the mind come up a lot in my life, often during my restorative yoga classes, but also in conversation with folks who know I keep a regular meditation practice.
I wrote some about the topic here, but last week I had an insight that still makes me chuckle.
During a recent meditation, I was using one technique I've learned for acknowledging the thoughts in my mind and letting them go.
It's the "thinking" method, which simply means that when you identify that you are having thoughts, say to yourself, "thinking." Feel the quiet that emerges after you say that word. Allow for the space to expand. Breathe into it.
And when thoughts arise again, as they always do, do it again.
"Thinking." Pause. Breathe. Relish.
I'd done this a few times already during this particular practice. Then all of a sudden an image came to mind. A very distinct picture of a 1950s switchboard operator. She was heavily done-up, from make-up to hair. Pencil skirt. Crisp white blouse. Comfortably seated in an office chair, chomping on a piece of gum and filing her nails.
When the board would buzz, she'd lift the receiver, say, "Hold, please," hang it up and go right back to filing her nails and smacking her gum.
Polite, but firm.
Somehow I knew she would get back to the caller(s), but on her terms, when she was ready.
Just like I wanted to do with my flittering mind. I didn't necessarily want to push the thoughts away, or forget them even. I just wanted them to ease. Come back later, if important.
So I thought I'd channel my inner switchboard operator. Instead of telling myself, "thinking," I said, "hold, please."
And ... it worked. As well as "thinking" ever had at least. But it did quiet things — and it made me grin.
Calm and joy? That's a win-win.