There are many metaphors for the mind. One of these is its likening to a body of water. What does this mean though? While the phrase is often used in context of “stilling the mind”, what does that even mean?
I don’t believe that we cause the mind to behave like water. Instead, we recognize that it already behaves like water. Where we discover the “water-like” nature of the mind is precisely in the practice of focus.
The practice of meditation includes a focus upon a stationary object. Some object is chosen upon which the mind is redirected whenever it is found wandering. When we strain to focus, we introduce a strain to the patterns of the mind. In this way, a struggle to focus makes focusing more difficult.
However, when we allow the mind to focus upon the object, gently envisioning it even as other thoughts, emotions, and experiences appear in the way, these other thoughts are given time to fade of their own accord. The ripples and waves of mind begin a process of settling. It is an exercise of patience. Slowly, the pool of mind becomes a clearer reflection of not only the object of focus or the external world, but of our own thoughts as well.