Lately I’ve been using the image of an empty cup to find a more peaceful state of mind.
One of the most peaceful, meditative states is when you’re just open to noticing what’s around you and happening in the present moment. You’re just receiving the world around you (yourself included), and soaking in the light, colors, shapes, sounds, touch sensations—just noticing.
When you’re completely open to noticing this moment, it can be amazing—you notice things you wouldn’t have if you were in your normal dream state, and you start to appreciate little details of everything around you. Most of us miss this almost all of the time. We all walk around in a trance, thinking about what we need to do, spinning stories about what’s happening.
Here’s the thing: If our minds are full of thoughts and stories already, we actually can’t notice the present moment. We can’t see what’s all around us when we’re caught up in our normal dreamlike state.
You can’t fill a cup up with the present moment, when it’s already full.
So I have been practicing emptying out my cup.
I notice that I have an emotional state or story that has filled my mind and is blocking me from noticing what’s in front of me.
I let all of that flow out of the cup of my mind.
And then I soak in the present moment, noticing the physical sensations of everything around me. Noticing my body and how it feels. Noticing what’s flowing through my mind.
Then, of course, I get caught up in my thoughts again. When I notice this, I empty my cup. I soak in the moment. Then once again, I get caught up, I empty my cup, I soak in the moment.
Over and over, I empty my cup. And that leaves me open to whatever is happening right now—the wonder-filled beauty and joy of the emerging moment.
Leo Babauta is author of six books and writes ZenHabits.net, a blog with over 2 million subscribers.