The mind is water

Have you ever thought about the interesting metaphor about how the mind is water? It can be quite powerful juxtaposing two completely different things and comparing them. It just might help you see meditation and mindfulness in a new light.

Rapid waters

If the mind is rapid water, it represents so many thoughts cascading over rocks, through eddies and nooks. It’s hard to see to the bottom of the “river.” Stillness is absent, though it’s possible to find some measure of peace from the sound of the water.

In our waking lives, we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of rapid, cascading thoughts! There might be a split second of stillness, a fleeting moment of clarity. We can find peace in different activities, such as in taking a walk or in those moments before we fall asleep for a nap…

But none of it lasts long.

There is one neat thing about water that’s rushing by: those same molecules of water will never pass by again, nor will they ever be in the same conglomeration of particular molecules. They have come, and they will go.

And so it is with meditation: we can watch our thoughts come, and watch them go, knowing that we might not see them exactly the way they passed in our minds again. This can be a helpful visualization in meditation.

Still waters

Sometimes, however, the mind gets still enough to see to the bottom of the pond or pool. This is when we experience transcendence.

Most people are not be able to still the mind for more than a moment or two. Beginning meditators cannot, either. It is only through sustained practice that thoughts start to spread farther apart, such that the rushing waters begin to settle for longer and longer periods of time.

In my own practice, the water gets still for a few moments, after thousands of hours of practice. But then the waters begin to rush again.

When the waters get still, however, the bottom of the pool or pond turns into infinity. It becomes an act of touching the fabric of the universe. It’s quite calm and you move beyond the reflection of yourself that you’d see in the water, to that which is Beyond.

mind is water

Water is cleansing

Continuing with the metaphor of water, we also can see that whether the water is rapid or still, it has cleansing properties. The mind has the ability to cleanse itself, both in and out of meditation. This cleansing is through activities that help relax the mind: exercise, yawning, and otherwise uplifting the soul.

Water is persistent

Water has the ability to carve out canyons, and vast ones at that! Hundreds of thousands of years of persistence will do that.

A persistent mind will find that it, too, can carve proverbial canyons and alter the landscape. Persistence is what helps to maintain a meditation practice. Persistence is not giving up until an intention is fulfilled.

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

Water can be drowning

If we’re not careful, however, it can get to be too much. Too much water drowns us out. We get overwhelmed with our thoughts and life. Events overwhelm us.

It’s up to us to balance flow the water, make it get still from time to time, and allow it to help cleanse our minds.

Water is life. It is the essence and foundation for life. It also represents the mind. If water is rushing, so are thoughts. If water is still, the mind has reached nirvana. Click To Tweet

Water is life

The Standing Rock movement popularized the “Water is life” phrase. But, water is life. Every organism on earth depends directly, or indirectly on water. Metaphorically speaking, our minds are also life. Without them, we cannot make decisions that move us forward and allow us to survive each day.

Water is the substance that has permitted living beings to exist throughout the millennia. Its blue color symbolizes stability and calmness. In the same way, the mind allows us to find calmness and stability, if only we cultivate those qualities.

If we give our minds the same respect that we need to give water, then we will cultivate the values that help us to connect with each other, have compassion, bring peace to our lives, and so much more.

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