"To cultivate the true, all-encompassing peace of shamatha, you remain open to the energy and chaos both within you and around you." - Frank Berliner (Elephant Journal)
This weeks theme was shamatha, a Sanskirt word meaning “peaceful abiding” or “resting the mind.” To cultivate shamatha, you can practice focusing or meditating on a single object of attention: a flame, breathing, a visualization, or an image.
This practice has many benefits such as enabling a higher level of focus and attention to detail in daily life. On a deeper level, shamatha, or “becoming completely identified with nowness” is the primary stepping stone on the journey to enlightenment.
To “remain open to the chaos both within and around you” is to be an unbiased observer of your nowness. To do this, you must have a practice that is neither “too tight” nor “too loose,” as Berliner explains. One must not fabricate peace and ignore their surroundings, nor should they allow their nowness to overwhelm them. Rather, the pursuit of shamatha is the pursuit of “making friends with your mind,” enabling you to understand you as you are and find strength and purpose no matter what your present moment looks like.
Today, practice taking the headphones out of the ears to listen and observe your surroundings.
Find a moment of quiet to do nothing but focus on your present moment.
Listen to every detail, not favoring certain ones over another.
Take a deep breath and continue your day with openness to all the chaos.
In it, you’ll find peace.