A few years ago, I was on a scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. The boat trip to the dive zone took about an hour and a half and many of the passengers on the boat grew seasick from the constant motion of the waves. Eventually we reached our destination, put on our scuba equipment, and prepared to enter the water.
The waves were a couple of feet high – not actually dangerous, but enough to make things awkward and unstable on the surface of the water as we stepped off the boat. A couple of meters below the surface, the water was still turbulent and choppy. As we descended deeper and deeper, however, the currents became gentle and the motion of the water was much smoother and calmer. Once we reached ten or fifteen meters depth, the waves on the surface were a distant memory.
This amazing transition over such a short distance seemed like the perfect real-world analogy for the process of meditation and other techniques of mind training. The practice of meditation takes a person’s attention from the disordered waves on the surface, to the stillness within.
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