Being Mentally Healthy – 16. Attaining Quietude

Transcendence is the state of consciousness where the body remains sensitive to sensation, but the mind is quiet. Being transcendent while awake is called quietude. Abiding in quietude is the level of consciousness called enlightenment.

Enlightenment is mental health. By contrast, being led by the nose by an inner noise maker is mental illness.

We are creatures of habit. Enlightenment is attained by practicing transcendence until it becomes the norm rather than nattermind squawking.

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Sitting and meditating is an apt practice for habituating transcendence.

To assist in attaining transcendence during meditation, a mantra is traditionally used. A mantra serves as a focal signifier to pacify monkey-mind.

A mantra is 1 or 2 meaningless syllables. A mantra is a vehicle for quieting the mind through mentally whispered repetition.

It does not matter what mantra you use. All vowel sounds are fine. Prefer soft consonants, not ones that pop. As a suggestion, use the mantra “soma.”

Keep your mantra pure. Don’t attach any associative meaning to your mantra.

You may meditate without a mantra, using your breath or other discernible bodily rhythm as a seat of attention.

Here’s how to meditate.

Sit in a comfy chair or prop yourself up in bed with cushions. The room should be quiet, and preferably dimly lit.

Spend a few moments calming yourself by focusing on your body rhythms, such as your breath. If possible, breathe through your nostrils, not your mouth.

Begin meditating with the intention of quietude. When thoughts arise, gently smother them by bringing your mantra to the conscious mind, making it the mental focus. Keep intending toward inner silence.

Repeat the mantra as if calmly breathing it. Do not concentrate on the mantra. The aim is to clear and relax the mind, not hold it captive. A mantra merely expedites transcendence by mesmerizing monkey-mind, and so silencing it. A mantra is a lilting lullaby for the mind.

Meditate 20 minutes, time permitting. Even a short session is beneficial. A meditation of mere moments may prove soothing.

Transcending or falling asleep for a longer period than planned is perfectly natural. Your mind-body takes whatever rest it needs when it can.

Some meditation sessions may feel busy, others serene. Regardless of their seeming quality, meditation is always helpful. If your monkey-mind is in overdrive and meditation is frustrating, relax for a few minutes and get on with your day.

At the end of a longer meditation session, lay down or slump in your chair. Spend 3 to 5 minutes relaxing with your eyes closed, allowing yourself to ease back to the waking state. You don’t want to abruptly end meditation, as it may give you a dull headache.

Do not meditate on a full stomach. Meditation slows the bodily system, and so can degrade digestion.

Do not exercise after meditating. Let the calm settle in.

A recommended daily practice is a meditation session in the morning after awakening and another in the late afternoon. You may choose to meditate whenever circumstance permits.

If you have trouble falling asleep, a short meditation session may help.

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The goal is not good meditations. The aim is abiding in quietude, and thereby freeing yourself from nattermind’s predations.

Mental illness is monkey-mind running amok. Mental health is a subdued mind.

Yoga is a bodily meditation practice which originated in India. Yoga aims at transcendence through physical postures.

Tai chi is the Chinese variant of yoga. Whereas yoga employs poses, tai chi uses movements. Just as a mantra in meditation makes no difference, nor do particular yoga poses or tai chi movements. The aim is the same: transcendence by relaxed awareness on the present.

Another apt practice for abiding in transcendence is walking in Nature. Be aware of every step, of your body in motion, your breathing, and the environment around you. Maintain focal awareness on the present.

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A recap. Practice transcendence. You can do this by regularly meditating, yoga, or just by attending what’s going on. If nattermind interrupts with a thought, swat it away and focus on your breath if nothing else has your attention.

With diligence you can master your monkey-mind. Maintain your attention on what is happening now. Conscious thought only detracts from being present in the present. Mental health is calm witnessing.

You will know when your destination of quietude is near. The natural biofeedback in approaching enlightenment is bliss. This is Nature’s way of applauding your persistence in attaining quietude.

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Next, we continue with more practical instruction on being mentally healthy.