The State of No Mind is the Practice of Seeing Life As It Really Is.
Have you ever witnessed something so amazing, so beautiful that everything else stopped, went quiet, and a deep sense of serenity came over you? Perhaps it was watching a sunset, listening to a classical masterpiece, sitting in meditation, or maybe it was at random? Whatever the cause, it put you in a place where thoughts ceased to exist and there was only that moment in time, that special place of the experiencer (you) and the thing being experienced.
If you have ever reflected on such an experience, you might have noticed that one thing was missing from it… the mind. If you haven’t, let’s go ahead and reflect now. Were there thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow? Were you worrying about the thing you haven’t done that needs to be finished by Friday? Were there any judgments of the moment? Any comparisons of this experience to others you might have had?
Perhaps you have had an experience where there was no mind, but it was instantly followed with thoughts, judgments, etc. But it is not the mental noise afterwards that I want you to remember; it is that deep sense of serenity and almost an unspeakable connection with the moment that we are focusing on. It is that moment in time, the only moment existing at that point, without thoughts, judgments, heuristics, categorizing, comparisons, and emotions. This is the experience that many of us have had (I would argue all of us at one point or another) that I want to focus on.
No matter what one’s experience of no mind looked like, I can guarantee one thing, it happened through a place of pure observance or awareness. It happened from a place where thoughts ceased to exists, if only for a moment. It happened from a place where you, in that moment, were fully present. You see, the past and future exist only in our minds. Where do we access memories? Where do we worry about tomorrow? Without our minds we cannot access these things, and in doing so, how often do we look past the present moment? If we take away the past and future, if we take away the mind, what is left? You, and the present moment. And living in this state of no mind allows us to experience life as it is.
Imagine simply watching the gentle wind course through the vibrant green leaves as the sun illuminates their brilliance. Imagine looking more closely at how each leaf is full of its own veins and skeleton, looking more closely at its life. Imagine visualizing the leaf as being the same as your own body—both dependent on a larger source of energy for sustenance.
How often do we look at a leaf without our minds first labeling it “leaf,” “green,” “part of a tree,” “changes colors with the seasons,” etc. instead of simply looking at it and seeing it in that moment and experiencing it as if it was the first time? Can we not simply witness life as life is?
Entering the state of no mind is the practice of seeing life as it is. It is the practice, or state of awareness, that is always there, which Zen calls Mushin. So next time you see a leaf, I challenge you to pay it more attention. Not to analyze it with your mind, but to simply watch it, feel it, spend some time with it. Try to do as it does, and be connected to your surroundings as it is. If one can simply see the leaf as a part of nature that is full of life, and take a lesson from how it simply exists in an intensely peaceful and calm state, imagine what one could see within one’s self.
Meditation is a mindfulness practice that allows the practitioner to step into this place of no mind more and more. If you are interested in learning these techniques, check out our Consciously Meditating program.
“Live each moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each moment.” – Paramahansa Yogananda