To Think - To Fast - To Wait
When Siddhartha was asked, “And you? What can you do?” he replied – “me? -- I can think, I can fast, and I can wait.”
Most of us can’t really think. We think that we do. But in truth, it’s our thoughts that are thinking us and not so much the other way around. Most of us are trained in compulsive thinking. An incessant flow of thoughts running one after the other with little to no space in between. Our process of thinking is truly running the show. It is as if there is an inside radio commentator who has to describe every single move in the game of life. It seems almost as if between you and your direct experience of life, there is an endless stream of words. “Ohh, wow, nice, disgusting, I like this, I hate that…”
When looking at nature around us, what we actually experience is not trees, flowers, and the gentle caress of the wind; we experience thoughts, words, and descriptions. An endless comparison with our past and a continuous evaluation of our future. When Siddhartha thinks, he has choice. Like a painter, he chooses his colors carefully. He has a pallet of options. He carefully selects the specific colors that create the most harmony, the most joy, the most happiness, and delight. He has the choice a poet does when describing the face of their beloved. Sometimes with gentle pastels and kind words and sometimes with contrasting reds and deep desire. When you know how to think, your life and your relationship to it look more like a dialog and less like a monologue where life happens only as a commentary within your head. You form a relationship with the world around you. Your commentary is brought about as a complimentary process of beautification and not just as a means to criticize and constantly evaluate. Your words and your thinking bring about meaning and are not only an endless attempt to label, define, and limit the infinite expressions of life surrounding you.
The interesting phenomenon in learning how to think is that, essentially, in order to learn to think, you actually have to learn how to listen. Listening is a process of vacating your mind and allowing something of the other to fill you up. If while listening to one tune you whistle another, you won’t be able to hear and definitely not enjoy the one which was already playing. Listening is a meditative process; it is a deep allowing, accepting, letting life become a musical experience that happens for you, an endless stream of harmony finding its way into your heart. If your mind is racing with thoughts, you must learn to listen more. Listen so intently that suddenly, the space, the silence between your thoughts, will become more apparent, and one day, unexpectedly, that silence will lead you to further choice, to further your capacity to think with a quality of consciousness.
Siddhartha knew how to fast. Fasting isn’t just the conscious choice to stop eating. But the conscious choice of what you take in and how you digest it. What to accept and use as nourishment and what to allow to simply float by without affecting our minds and bodies. Obviously, the simplest expression of this is with our food and nourishment. Choosing the proper foods that support the health of our bodies. Drinking enough water, choosing nutrients that amplify our ability to live with joy and energy, and rejecting those who bring about laziness, depression, and atrophy. Coming from an integrative approach and the constant advancement in our scientific understanding of how foods affect our bodies, a commitment to proper nutrition is truly a lifelong process. Refining the choices we make and truly studying what to eat and drink that brings about, for our own individual bodies, the utmost nutrition, health, and energy.
But more than the physical nutrition to our bodies, what Siddhartha was pointing out was the process of mental and emotional digestion. The necessary discernment, we have to learn how to employ in the protection of our soul and spirit. How to sift through the gobs of information our mind is bombarded with and genuinely picking up only the golden nuggets that will bring about transformation, beauty, and peace. In the exact same way as we do with food, we have to be aware of what content we expose our consciousness to. With the conversations we have, the type of movies we watch, the books we read, and the online gossip we take part in.
Just like real food, “eating” a bad conversation can be as disastrous as food poisoning can be. Sometimes, digesting a harmful movie or book can have long-lasting consequences. So many of us live our entire lives with a comment or a remark said harshly when we were young. That one single piece of information shapes years of choices and unconscious behaviors. Similarly to the fact you have to drink water often, you have to constantly feed your mind with experiences and information that will cause its upliftment, its growth, its expansion.
Fasting with your mind and heart is a process of careful examination. Evaluating not only if the source benefits you but whether it causes positive results. When talking about heart and spirit, this means asking if, ultimately, you find that you are happier, more expressed, and experience deeper joy.
“I can wait,” said Siddhartha, concluding with a broad smile on his face. Waiting is perhaps the most overlooked of all spiritual practices. The type of waiting Siddhartha is talking about is not the same as waiting for your appointment at the dentist or waiting for important papers to arrive in the mail. Siddhartha is talking about a purposeless waiting. Where there will be nothing at the other end. Nothing will arrive, nothing will appear, nothing will happen. It is purposeless in it of itself, but filled with meaning. It is the waiting itself that brings about transformation. It is similar to waiting for your beloved to wake up as you are watching their sleeping face. It is the sort of waiting for your favorite part of a song. The anticipation, the delight is in the process, not the result. Meditation is nothing more than waiting. But not for something to appear or to be revealed; meditation is a process of waiting for life to enjoy itself through you. To wait with eager alertness and anticipation for your heart to sing its song,
One of the ways to learn how to wait is by singing, opening your heart, and offering a musical prayer. As you dive into this mystical practice, your heart will transform. Your being will be infused with the divine light. Your life will become a deep waiting. A meaningful waiting to sing further, to paint your soul with each and every note. To harmonize with life’s infinite currents. Your life will become a waiting with no end. The other way to wait, Siddhartha taught us – is to smile. Smiling is one of life’s greatest mysteries. It is unnecessary. Purposeless. And yet… a life lived without smiling is a life wasted. A single smile will transform your waiting heart into a garden of light, a musical symphony awaiting to be sung.