I ain’t talking about your dirty mind. I’m referring to a mind that’s cluttered, out of control, and getting in your way of living most effectively.
My friend and I recently were debating a question any Harry Potter fan has asked themself: which of the books’ spells, creatures, or inventions do you wish were real?
For me, it was Dumbledore’s Pensieve: that stone basin, covered in mystic runes, that relieves a mind cluttered with too many thoughts, too much information.
Harry: “What is it?“
Dumbledore: “This? It is called a Pensieve. I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”
The Pensieve collects and stores memories in swirling strands of silvery light. When used, it brings its user (I assume?) a much-needed sense of clarity, peace, and lightness.
Fortunately for us, our scattered minds can be cleaned up with a technique that doesn’t require any magic objects: meditation.
Truth is, I’m pretty new to meditation practice, but I’ve noticed that meditation’s positive effects display themselves almost immediately. With just a few minutes each morning, I’m noticing subtle changes that surprise me throughout the rest of the day. It’s as if my feathers don’t get ruffled as easily; little things that used to get under my skin glide over me a bit easier. Or, put more eloquently, I have a new-found sense of equanimity in my daily life.
I’ve also been pleased to discover little swells and pops of happiness that wash over me for no apparent reason. Walking to work, I’ll notice that I’m smiling and admiring the way the light reflects off the glass buildings. Shopping for groceries, I’m less annoyed by lines and instead smile at the old man hunched over the bin of fresh vegetables.
Though meditation sounds, and is, simple – It’s by no means always easy for me. There are times when my meditation practice seems to be utterly useless, where my mind is racing and I’m frustrated and I’m wiggling in my seat, counting down the seconds until I can snap open my eyes and start my day. I try to recall the consolation of my teacher : every time we meditate, it’s money in the bank. In other words, the effects are cumulative, and we must trust that even a little bit of effort is better than none at all.
Or as St. Francis de Sales, French saint and Bishop of Geneva, assured us:
If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently…And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back, though it went away every time you bought it back, your hour would be very well employed.
Sounds great, but what does it even mean to meditate?
- Here’s a nice little guide with some instructional tips, techniques, and Q&As:
- This article lists some great techniques that expand the definition of “meditation”, with mindful practices such as writing, listening to music, or spending time with your pet:
- Guided meditations can be very helpful, especially for beginners. Feel free to browse the videos below, which include beginner meditation exercises as well as some geared specifically for depression, concentration, and anxiety:
Seems like if we all meditated every day, we wouldn’t need any Pensieve to clear our minds.
Now, if I could only get my hands on one of those magical time turner necklaces…