By Thich Nhat Hanh
All about the power of stopping!
Note: This is written from Buddhist perspective/language so if that does not work for you put in your words!
My dear friends, suppose someone is holding a pebble and throws it in the air and the pebble begins to fall down into a river. After the pebble touches the surface of the water, it allows itself to sink slowly into the river. It will reach the bed of the river without any effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to rest. It allows the water to pass by.
I think the pebble reaches the bed of the river by the shortest path because it allows itself to fall without making any effort. During our sitting meditation we can allow ourselves to rest like a pebble. We can allow ourselves to rest naturally without effort to the position of sitting, the position of resting. Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the art of resting.
Resting is the first part of Buddhist meditation. You should allow your body and your mind to rest. The problem is that not many of us know how to allow our body and mind to rest. We are always struggling; struggling has become a kind of habit. We cannot resist being active, struggling all the time. We struggle even during our sleep. It is very important to realize that we have the habit energy of struggling. We have to be able to recognize a habit when it manifests itself because if we know how to recognize our habit, it will lose its energy and will not be able to push us anymore.
To mediate means first of all to be there – to be on your cushion, to be on your walking meditation path. Easing also is a meditation if you are really there, essential to be there. So please when you practice meditation, don’t make any effort. Allow yourself to be like that pebble of the river and the pebble does not have to do anything. While you are walking, you are resting. While you are sitting, you are resting.
If you struggle during your sitting meditation or walking meditation, you are not doing it right. The Buddha said, “My practice is the practice of non-practice.” That means a lot. Give up all struggle. Allow yourself to be, to rest.
When I sit on my meditation cushion, I consider it to be something very pleasant. I don’t struggle at all on my cushion. I allow myself to be, to rest. I don’t make any effort and that is why I do not get any trouble while sitting. While sitting I do not struggle and that is why all my muscles are relaxed. If you struggle during your sitting meditation, you will very soon have pain in your shoulders and back. But if you allow yourself to be rested on your cushion you can sit for a very long time, and each minute is light, refreshing, nourishing, and healing.
We do not sit in order to struggle to get enlightenment. No. Sitting first of all is for the pleasure of sitting. Walking first of all is for the pleasure of walking. And eating for the pleasure of eating. And the art is to be there 100 percent.
Be there truly. Be there 100 percent of yourself. In every moment of your daily life. That is the essence of true Buddhist meditation. Each of us knows that we can do that, so let us train to live each moment of our daily life deeply. That is why I like to define mindfulness as the energy that helps us to be there 100 percent. It is the energy of your true presence.
Breathing in, repeat in the here, in the here. Breathing out – in the now, in the now. Although these are different words they mean exactly the same thing. I have arrived in the here. I have arrived in the now. I am home in the here. I am home in the now.
When you practice like that, you practice stopping. Stopping is the basic Buddhist practice of meditation. You stop running. You stop struggling. You allow yourself to rest, to heal, to calm.
Note: Essay from Shambhala Pocket Classics – The Pocket of Thich Nhat Hanh