Meditation can help us clear our mind and reset our focus. Meditating on our fears and other emotions, in particular, can help us realize their ultimate value.
In many forms of meditation, the ultimate goal is a state of mushin (Japanese) or wuxin (Chinese), which is often translated as “no thought”, but in practice it is more like “no emotion”: a state without rage or sadness but also without love or excitement.
It was in this meditative state of mushin or wuxin that we are best about to evaluate our inner selves and see the course of action, without emotions that could otherwise get in the way.
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It might sound difficult to achieve a state of “no emotion.” But you don’t have to be a zen master. With a little practice, you too can try to achieve the kind of mindful meditation that helps us best assess our inner selves.
Try to use the following meditation technique to achieve your own state of mushin:
- Kneel on the floor into a seated position, with your thighs on your calves and your buttocks resting on your ankles. Angle your ankles so your feet form a “V” position on the floor, with your big toes touching. Fold your hands in your lap, or place them palm-down on your thighs. Focus on your posture and keep your back straight, centered, and upright.
- This is the Japanese style of seiza (正座), or “correct sitting.” If it isn’t comfortable for you, however, you can try another position such as the lotus, with your legs crossed in front of you.
- Breathe in a relaxed manner through your nose. Press your tongue lightly against the roof of your mouth. Turn your focus to a single point on the ground in front of you.
- Release all tension from your body. Keep your eyes open, but try not to focus on your vision. Instead, keep your focus on your breath.
- Inhale slowly, and keep focus on your breath as it flows through your body and into your lungs. Exhale slowly and take note of the same. Mentally, count “1”.
- Your goal is to reach a count of “7” full breaths. But here’s the catch: every time you notice a stray thought or emotion enter your mind, however small it might be, you must start the process over again from “1”. Your thoughts must be entirely focused on your breathing, and nothing else.
- Once you get to “7”, you can stop counting, but breathe in the same manner and continue to focus on your breath. Let thoughts flow through your mind naturally, and continue to meditate for however long is comfortable.
The above technique is a form of the Buddhist zazen meditation. By counting our breath and starting over if our mind wanders, we are practicing a form of mindful meditation that encourages the state of mushin.
After a count of seven full breaths without intrusive thought, we can consider a state of mushin to be achieved. The thoughts that flow through our mind afterwards may therefore be processed without emotion.
Ideally, the thoughts that cross our mind in this state will flow freely. But try to note if a fear comes up, and remember the yin-yang relationship between fear and courage.
At MaArtial, we believe that mindfulness is more than just a trendy concept: it’s a vital component of adapting timeless philosophies to your daily life.
Instead of thinking about meditation as an esoteric practice, the above technique can help you practically implement it in your daily life.
You don’t need to become a buddhist monk to achieve a form of mushin — by taking a mindful approach, anyone can achieve a state of “no mind”.
Photo: Martin Puddy/ Getty Images