The Busy Trap: Do You Have Time For Your Mind?
Updated: Jun 7
Make sure to sit in for meditation for 20 minutes in a day, unless you are TOO BUSY, in which case, you should MEDITATE FOR AN HOUR.
This is one of my favorite Zen quotes. I like how it delivers the point in a very gentle and humorous way. It encourages us to prioritize meditation as a means of finding inner peace and tranquility, even amidst the busyness of our lives. Nowadays when I look around, it seems there isn't anyone who isn't busy. Even a 10yr old has a very busy schedule with school and all the extra curriculum activities along with what goes on with mobile phones and computers. (Often they are so busy doing something on the phone or computer, right?)
I like how the quote highlights the irony that when we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities and commitments, that is when we need the benefits of meditation the most.
The story of a king with four wives
Another story I like, which I often use to explain the importance of our mental well-being and what we need to prioritize first in our lives, is the story of a king with four wives.
The story goes like this;
Once upon a time, there was a king who had four wives. Although each wife held a special place in his heart and life, the king loved his fourth wife the most. One day, the king fell seriously ill, and he realized that his time in this world was limited. Concerned about his death and who would accompany him in his final moments, he called his fourth wife whom he dearly loved.
He asked her, "I loved you the most and took care of you well by buying you nice clothes, food, and everything. Can you accompany me to the afterlife?" The fourth wife replied, "My dear king, I am sorry. I am afraid that is not possible."
Feeling disappointed, the king called his third wife and asked her the same question. She responded, "I can only stay by your side until the end of your life. Then, I am going to re-marry!"
Hearing this, the king turned to his second wife and asked her to accompany him in death. She lovingly replied, "I will stay and hold your hand til the last minute. But that's all I can do."
The king was heartbroken and sad. Then he heard a voice calling out and saying, "My dear king, I will not only accompany you in death, but I will also follow you into the afterlife. I will be with you forever."
It was his first wife whom he loved the least and didn't really take care of much. So she was in bad shape. Feeling embarrassed, the king said, "I am sorry, I should've taken more care of you and given more attention when I was alive."
What to prioritize in our life
The moral of the story is that we all have four wives. The fourth wife represents our body. We spend a lot of time looking after this body, decorating, and feeding it with nice food, etc. However, it is the first thing that will go when we die. When you think about it, when we die, the body is really nothing much but a clump of meat. It will just rot and go back to dirt. Of course, we need to look after it so it can function at best while living but we do need to realize that it can't be the purpose of our life.
Wealth and possessions
The third wife represents our wealth and possessions, like houses, cars, and material things. When we die, these are the ones that will be divided and used by others, hence, they will 're-marry' when we die!
Friends and family
The second wife means our friends and family. They will be there holding our hands until the last minute and be there for the funeral. Again, that's it. There is nothing more they can do about our death.
Now, can you guess what the first wife stands for?
It represents your mind, your soul. Although we try to look after our body, our possessions, and friends and family but we often neglect our mind in the name of 'being too busy,' or 'I don't have time.'
However, in the end, this is the most important thing in your life. I mean, what can be more important than your 'self'? The mind is everything. One can achieve many great things and become successful even in what seems to be a very unfortunate situation when the mind is right.
Do You Have Time For Your Mind?
So, how can we look after the mind? Learn how to empty the mind and practice it!
You can't build muscle by thinking about exercising or reading about it. It only happens when you physically take action. Likewise, if you would like a clear and positive mind all the time, then you need to take action in letting go of all the unnecessary thoughts in your mind.
By choosing to devote time to meditation, we create space for introspection, relaxation, and the cultivation of mindfulness. Having time for your mind and meditating can help us navigate the challenges and stresses of everyday life with greater clarity, focus, and equanimity. It reminds us to make self-care a priority, even when our schedules seem packed.
To all of us who are so busy, let's reevaluate our perception of busyness and make our mental well-being a priority.
Carving out time for meditation allows us to cultivate inner peace, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced life!