Maybe for someone like me, achieving a “sound mind” is asking a bit too much.
I’d settle for a slightly more peaceful mind.
In general, I find peace when I am highly focused. In high school I achieved this in karate when sparring. Let the mind drift a little to what you’re going to have for lunch and all of a sudden there’s a punch in the face. The past few years I’ve found this peace in lifting heavy weights. Again, there’s no leeway for a wandering mind when the weights are heavy enough and injury is the punishment for losing concentration. Sometimes I focus well when programming or writing — I sometimes have long bursts when everything clicks and I create a whole bunch of stuff in one session.
I’ve found that strengthening the body does a lot for strengthening the mind, and I’m thinking that strengthening the mind will do a lot for strengthening the body. That’s probably a key life lesson, and one of the reasons this quote has stuck around for almost 2,000 years:
Mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a healthy body) is a famous Latin quotation, often translated as, “A sound mind in a sound body.”
(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_sana_in_corpore_sano for more about this quote)
For many years I’ve experimented to find what works for me and reading a lot about what works for other people. Again and again meditation gets suggested. Somehow the idea of sitting and doing nothing seems like too much of a bother. Yeah, I’ve done it — but it was usually for situations like being stuck inside a MRI machine. AND the thing I noticed in situations like that was that I would be completely stressed unless the operator gave me regular time updates: “20 minutes to go… 15 minutes to go… 10 minutes to go…”
JC Deen suggested the “missing piece” for me — just set a timer to go off and let me know when I finished my 5 minutes. Takes all the worry away of “How much longer until we get home?”
So I tried it — set my timer for 5 minutes and just sat and tried to count my breaths. The first time the highest I got to was 3 before a thought intruded. The second time I got to 5 breaths and thought “Wow, I made it to 5! I can write that in the blog!” Yeah, busted.
So this isn’t a big mystic production with candles and incense, it’s just 5 minutes of me sitting still with my eyes closed and counting my breaths. When a thought intrudes I start back at 1.
Simple enough, but yet it still counts as meditation.
Much like this blog, it’s something I intend to work on every day. As JC Deen’s article states:
Simply begin and continue
Here’s his posts on this