I run a pro-bono mediation club called ZENDAY. Last week we began working with a new meditation ‘super power’ — the ability to observe a chaotic reality without being carried away by it. This is the short story of how I was introduced to the idea of becoming the eye of the hurricane.
“Are your legs hurting?” Asked my teacher Phra-a-jarn Sak. It was 6.30 pm on a very humid Friday in (the city you were in Thailand maybe? To give the heat context). The heat was bearable, but we had been sitting for roughly 30 minutes in the lotus position meditating, and I had no idea if I was ever going to walk again. “Yes and they are going numb.” I answered back. “Is it injury or pain?” He asked. “Pain.” I replied, but they might have been broken for all I knew. “Good!” My teacher replied back, with a big smile on his face. “Then you have something to observe and practice moving your focus away from.”
“Even with great pain we can sleep with pain, and that is because our subconscious fade out the feeling”
My time living as a monk taught me how to develop mental observation skills. One skill I still practice daily is the ability to observe feelings and thoughts objectively, instead of reacting to them. I like to use a metaphor for this practice that is the weather phenomena ‘the eye of a hurricane’, the center of a violent storm that paradoxically is the calmest point of the event.
In a practical context, look at it this way: We all are burdened with some form of turbulent pain. Whether this pain is caused by external factors (news, work, other peopler) or internal factors (feelings, emotions or actual pain) makes no difference — what is common is that we acknowledge it, and focus on it, and by that let it affect us. Becoming the eye of the hurricane requires you to distance your mental attention from a subjective point to an objective point. Looking at pain from an objective standpoint, as if you were conducting a documentary about the pain, you move from the victim to an observer.
“I cannot solve your problems for you, but I can provide you with a set of mental tools to help you solve them for yourself”
The how to process of building an “Eye of the hurricane mindset”
The practice follows a fairly simple process, requires discipline as your mind can be easily carried away.
1. Breath is used as an anchor, it is your point of departure and also point of return.
2. As you focus on your breath you will in a short time realise that your mind is wandering and/or you start feeling a pain.
3. This is the hard part. You need to become conscious of your wandering mind. A trick one of my ZENDAY instructors uses is to focus your eyes behind your closed eyelids.
4. As you become aware of the thought/pain, observe the feeling in your body. Note triggers such as increased heart-rate, cold sweats, itching, numbness.
5. At this point relieve yourself by returning to your point of return, your breath, and repeat the cycle.
By practicing this technique you will increase resilience towards turbulence in your daily life.
Alexander Avanth is a ordained Buddhist monk from the Kunnathi Temple in Thailand and holds an academic background in neuroscience and business innovation. He works daily as a Future Education Specialist at Dare Disruptmapping how the development of exponential technology impacts the way we live and learn. In addition he is chairman and co-founder of Hold Danmark a startup that strives to bring awareness on the consequences of technology and digital addiction in the 21st century.