Monthly Archives: November 2008

choo choo brain

I have an image that I use to convey the sense of emptying my mind of thoughts. From a vantage-point high above, I picture myself sitting in meditation on the floor of the main hall of a huge deserted main-line railway station. I am completely alone, my eyes shut, the empty floor spreading out in all directions, and there is a muffled, almost underwater silence in this entire vast space.

Trains, like trains of thought, are at every moment silently gliding out from dozens of platforms to all possible destinations, and these trains represent all the thoughts, memories, feelings, desires, fears, ruminations, reflections, speculations, words, tunes and images that bombard me when I first sit down to meditate. But I, settling down into a deep and peaceful meditative state, stay seated in the terminus, do not feel tempted to board any of these trains, and will not pursue the connections that they inevitably go on to make, thought endlessly leading on to thought. I avoid these trains of thought by staying in the pure awareness of this hall, happy to remain in solitary and silent comtemplation of my own awareness, itself an immense cavernous void like the station, where I am rapt in the infinite stillness of eternity.

—Mark Forstater, from Yoga Masters


perfect rest

The great Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh says that it helps to meditate on the image of a pebble thrown into a river. How is one helped by the image of a pebble? Sit down in whatever position suits you best, the Half Lotus or Lotus, or even in a straight-backed chair, and keep a half-smile on your face.

Breathe slowly and deeply, following each breath. Then let go of everything. Imagine yourself as a pebble that has been thrown into a river. The pebble sinks through the water effortlessly; detached from everything, it falls by the shortest distance possible, finally sinking to the bottom, the point of perfect rest. You are like a pebble that has let itself fall into the river, letting go of everything. At the centre of your being is your breath. You don’t need to know the length of time it takes to reach the point of complete rest on the bed of fine sand beneath the water. But when you feel yourself resting like a pebble that has settled on the riverbed, that is the point when you begin to find your own rest, your own peace. In that peace you are no longer pushed or pulled by anything.

—Mark Forstater, from Yoga Masters