Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking. Let silence take you to the core of life…
In the final days of his life, the mythical Japanese samurai Musashi Miyamoto retreated to a cave called the Reigandō. (Spirit Rock Cave) In that cave he spent the final months of his life meditating and writing his views on the world. While secluded in the cave he wrote, “Dokkōdō”. The Dokkōdō contains his very own soul.
The Dokkōdō means “The Path of Aloneness” or “The Way to be Followed Alone” . Musashi wrote this work a week before his death. It is 21 lines long, each line containing a different idea one would live by.
1. Accept Everything Just The Way It Is.
Beautiful advice. Rather than worry or fret about what’s going on around you, accept it.
Too often we struggle trying to change things that cannot be changed. When one accepts things as they are, they are free to pursue their true purpose as opposed to fighting against the unchangeable.The time you’ve spent dwelling on it is better spent improving yourself.
2. Do Not Seek Pleasure For It’s Own Sake.
Seeking out the pleasurable things in life quickly become a distraction from the overall goal. In time, the pursuit of pleasure may become the goal itself and all effort towards your true purpose is lost. Avoid constant pleasure if you would stay true to your path.
3. Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Depend On A Partial Feeling.
You must be sure of where you put your foot before you step. The meaning here is not to get confused, to keep your head clear, and only act when you’re certain.
4. Think Lightly Of Yourself And Deeply Of The World.
Being humble. How are you to hear wisdom if you only hear yourself? If you only walk around with eyes for yourself, you’ll miss the details of the world around you. Paying attention to the world let’s you better appreciate the results of your actions, as well as giving you insight into things you would otherwise miss.
5. Be Detached From Desire Your Whole Lifelong.
If you spend your life chasing a dream you may be running forever. Live your life to be content, have goals but don’t let them rule you. Don’t dwell on what others have when you can make your own.
6. Do Not Regret What You Have Done.
Understand your actions. If you disprove of how you are, don’t constantly regret the past and be bitter. Work to understand yourself, put it past you, and live your life how you should.
7. Never Be Jealous.
It’s a waste of time. Spend your energy productively. All that time scheming could achieve a lot of other things.
8. Never Let Yourself Be Saddened By A Separation.
Just by living life people will come and go. It’s not the distance that matters but how you remember them. Keep them close to your heart and they are always living in your footsteps.
9. Resentment And Complaint Are Appropriate Neither For Oneself Nor Others.
Both happen because of an inability to accept and are a waste of time. It is far more efficient to change things without resentment or complaint and accepting what cannot be changed. Better to focus your energy on bettering yourself or them then causing useless grief.
10. Do Not Let Yourself Be Guided By The Feeling Of Lust Or Love.
Act with respect to yourself. If one studies the irrational behavior of humans it becomes prevalent that most of it is caused by love and lust. As wonderful as love can be, it can be equally as hurtful and distracting from one’s primary goal and, all to often, the same goal can even be forsaken. Lust will also become a bar to one’s path and will be no less of an obstruction as love. Never allow either to guide you.
11. In All Things Have No Preferences.
Have an open mind, be ready to try all things and desire none.If you always act a certain way you will never experience anything new.
12. Be Indifferent To Where You Live.
Living is living. If your unhappy with where you are, move, but in time you’ll realize it’s not where you live but how you live. A palace or a parking garage; be happy of shelter and warmth.
13. Do Not Pursue The Taste Of Good Food.
You can see this in evidence today. Eat for nourishment and eat to be full. Living the life of a ronin Mushashi learned the value of appreciating a full stomach. A taste for good food can be as harmful as any addiction.
14. Do Not Hold On To Possessions You No Longer Need.
Everything has its use, but eventually things run their course and become broken or unusable. If it no longer benefits with you, part with it freely. Give it to someone who can appreciate it. Let go of what is no longer useful and move forward. You’ll feel better for it.
15. Do Not Act Following Customary Beliefs.
Think and act for yourself. Act how you think you should act not how others say you should. You only have one chance to decide for yourself.
16. Do Not Collect Weapons Or Practice With Weapons Beyond What Is Useful.
A tribute to his time but apt advice depending on how you apply it. As with other possessions, it becomes burdensome to the Way when the desire for weapons becomes prominent. Keep what is useful and discard what is not.
17. Do Not Fear Death.
This may be the hardest one for some to do. Everyone dies, Everyone comes to terms differently. Great deeds can never be accomplished so long as death holds sway over your decisions. A true warrior carries death in his heart daily and, when the time comes, fully embraces it.
18. Do Not Seek To Possess Either Goods Or Fiefs For Your Old Age.
What good will they do when you’re gone? Apt advice as well, Live usefully and collect what is useful. When you make plans for material possessions, you lose focus on what is truly important and do what you can to live and enjoy wealth. This can lead to cowardice and other loathsome actions that will further you from the Way. Don’t waste your time when you can spend your time bettering yourself.
19. Respect Buddha And The Gods Without Counting On Their Help.
Count on yourself, Don’t count on luck or gods to pull you through. Tackle the endeavors you know are within your capabilities. If you pray to them for strength then they will put you in situations to find it.
20. You May Abandon Your Own Body But You Must Preserve Your Honor.
Don’t do anything you can’t live with for the rest of your life. Your actions make you. If you become old and weak, not far from the drink; live still with the actions and character that made men respect you.
21. Never Stray From The Way.
If you live a certain way, Either devote yourself wholly to it or cast it aside. If you can’t bring yourself to place complete conviction in your actions then why do them?
Perhaps you’ve never thought about having a gap between your thoughts and maybe cannot imagine it right now. After all, our thoughts tumble one right after the other, oftentimes overlapping. I’ve heard we can entertain hundreds of thoughts per minute but only about 5 or 6 ever reach our mind to register as a thought. So how could there possibly be any gap between thoughts? There is always a gap, or space between every thought just as there is a gap between every step into the next step that you take. You never think about it most likely; you just do it without realizing there is a gap.
Think about a trapeze artist. Everyone watches in awe as the performer let’s go of one bar as he/she flies through the air, grabbing for the bar swinging towards him. But think about it – there was a momentary, split second gap between the release of one bar and the grabbing of another. A lot can happen during that split second. The performer can actually grab hold of the bar swinging towards him and wow his audience, or completely miss the bar and experience a catastrophic result. The same is true in our lives – we can experience a wonderful success or experience a catastrophe through our gaps.
In the gap is your realness, the space in which for that moment there is silence. This is where you can quiet your mind and meditate. You’ve probably heard that it’s important to meditate every day, but if you’re like many individuals, you just can’t seem to squeeze it into your busy schedule. Or perhaps you are like some individuals who find they cannot quiet their mind chatter so simply give up trying to meditate. Yet meditation is life’s most powerful tool!
So why is it so difficult to stay in the gap? Our minds have been conditioned to be active and continually moving from one thought to another. We have created the busy schedules for ourselves because we have been programmed that this is the norm and what is expected of us. But when we do this we never have a chance to discover who we really are or what our truths are, for it is in the silence that these things are revealed…in the gap. Nor can we calm our brains and our bodies if they are always in action mode.
Deepak Chopra has been an advocate of meditation for many years and teaches various forms of meditation in his centers and programs. Many other healers and teachers follow suit with meditation programs as well, and this is due to the realization of the good it does for anyone when they regularly meditate. Dr. Michael Lam promotes meditation as part of recovery for adrenal fatigue and Dr. Henry Emmons tells us that meditation is critical for calming and balancing the brain. In my own life, I was a procrastinator about taking the time to meditate, but every time I made the time for even 5 or 10 minutes of meditating, I felt so much lighter and uplifted, and my body was calmer.
Meditation really has no rules. It simply means sitting quietly for a period of time without thoughts or movements. Many assume the lotus pose, but as soon as you sit down your mind doesn’t stop running thoughts through. Your goal is to acknowledge the thoughts but not to put any feelings to them…just let them be and slip right on through your mind. Here are some tips that were sent to me when I participated in Deepak Chopra’s 21-day Meditation Challenge a few months ago. They were tremendously helpful to me and I hope they will be beneficial to you as well.
1. Have no expectations. Sometimes the mind is too active to settle down. Sometimes it settles down immediately. Sometimes it goes quiet but you may not notice. Anything can happen because the goal is not to control the session.
2. Be easy with yourself. Meditation isn’t about getting it right or wrong. Surrendering to whatever happens is also an indication that you are on the right track. It’s about letting your mind find its true nature.
3. Really be there. If your attention is somewhere else, thinking about your next appointment, errand or meal, gently shift your attention back to the “So Hum (I AM)” mantra. Focusing on your mantra will help lead you back to the gap between thought.
Using the So-Hum mantra was a big help to me. As you sit quietly, taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose and then quietly exhaling through your nose, you simply think in your mind “So” as you inhale and “Hum” as you exhale. If you find your mind wandering, simply focus back on your breathing and the mantra. You may have to do this a lot in the beginning, but over time you will get the hang of this and be able to stay in the gap more readily.
The wonderful part of the gap (silence) is that it is only pure love. We want to operate our lives from love but often find ourselves operating from the fear of the world. In the space of love is where we know our truths and can create the desires of our heart. It is here that you can shift your beliefs, and inner silence is the place where you can heal. In her book Embraced by the Light, Betty Eadie, who experienced a near death experience and whose spirit traveled through death to the other side and back, said she discovered this on the other side: “Above all, I was shown that love is supreme. I saw that truly without love we are nothing. We are here to help one another, to care for one another, to understand, forgive and serve one another, and we are here to have love for every person born on earth.”
Sometimes while sitting quietly some old unpleasant experiences (stories) may surface. This is a great time to notice an experience and feel the negative feelings connected to it, but recognize it serves no purpose in your life and let it go. You can release the weight from around your neck and be free from it in this space of love.
Another benefit of daily meditation is that it has been proven to provide deeper levels of intuition and creativity. If you want to wake up your intuition and connect with the realm of spirit, or revive your stagnant creativity, this is a way to open up the channels within you. Additionally, it provides relief from stress, more restful sleep, more inner calm, and many health benefits. It has been noted that a deep meditation can literally revive the body just as sleep can!
So why wouldn’t you want to make use of this amazing gift of the gap between thoughts, given all the benefits it can provide in your life? Why not try it for just five minutes to start? The key is to simply begin, and once you get the momentum rolling, I believe you’ll see the benefits in your life and won’t want to live a day without meditating. Remember, there are no rules and there is no time-frame requirement…that is your choice. But even ten minutes per day can dramatically change your life for the better.
– Dr. Carolyn Porter