The concept of a mind like water or ‘Mizu no Kokoro’ is most commonly traced back to Japanese philosophy. It has many metaphorical meanings that can aid us in becoming more mindful of how we expend our mental energy. There are three basic concepts that can be tied in with this metaphor to keep your reactions in check, go with the flow and find your inner stillness. Let’s explore each of these in a bit more detail:
1. Reaction. Imagine you throw a pebble into a still pond. How does it react? Appropriately – every single time. The ripples are a perfect reflection of the force of the disturbance; it never overreacts or underreacts. Most of us give more or less attention to things than they deserve, operating without a mind like water. When we overreact or underreact to situations – our email, our boss, our kids – we lose our perspective and don’t get the most effective results. Reacting appropriately requires a keen self-awareness. If we allow small things that may deserve some attention to build up (i.e., underreacting), we are bound to get to that proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and, as a result, may overreact to a small event. Work to cultivate awareness of your reactions to daily events. Simple in theory yet difficult in practice, this discipline can greatly affect your relationships, productivity and emotional health.
2. Adaptation. As with any liquid, water is formless. It adapts to and takes the shape of whatever vessel it is put in. The lesson here is more obvious – adapt to what life gives you. Harmonize with your circumstances and embrace change. Although we do not always have the ability to control what happens to us, we always have the ability to choose how we react. Be like water; stay fully true to yourself while adapting to your surroundings. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”
3. Stillness. The surface of the vast ocean is full of activity, continuously experiencing and reacting to countless disturbances. Despite all of this, in the depth of the ocean there is always a place of calm. This is also true with your mind. Regardless of what is happening in your life and the constant stream of stimuli we have to respond to, always remember that there is a calm, still, unshakable and unmovable place of pure peace in your mind. Some days discovering this place of peace will feel quite difficult; other days it may be easy. In turbulent times, practice connecting to your stillness – your mind like water.
CBIZ Wellbeing Insights Issue 43
In this day and age of fast paced everything, it is important to find a place of calm around us and within us. Many folks that live at the Terrace Retirement Community find a quiet place normally looking out at nature or going out and being in nature. Some do exercise like Thai Chi or just sit a while and take time to reenergize. While living in an independent senior apartment complex it can be busy and bustling so quiet and calm can also be found in their apartment home. May we all find a place of calm in our own life.