Last night I was by myself in my apartment. It has been a busy month, and there are quite a number of ongoing projects that are quite complex and uncertain for me right now. If I had not been a meditator, then my mind may have latched onto any of these complex uncertainties, and started thinking them over. I may have experienced anxiety, doubts or worries, mixed in probably with some excitement and positivity. As it was I chose to let go of all the complexity for a while and just sit quietly, tuning into the solidity of my body, and allow my state of mind to become very simply and uncomplicated. The period of simplicity was refreshing. It allowed me to ‘catch up’ with any unprocessed emotions that were floating around, and enabled me to return to my thinking a while later with a sense of purpose and clarity.

This pattern of movement, from a complex state of mind to a simple, centered one is what distinguishes a meditator from a non-meditator, and it also illustrates much of the value that meditation offers.

Moving from complexity to complexity:

For many of us the pattern of our consciousness is to move from one complex state to another. After we wake up we start thinking about work, or we have to get the kids ready for school. On the way to work or school we might start thinking about our romantic relationship, or lack of one, or the problem with the colleague we have at work. After sitting down at our desk we spend a while deliberating whether our work is the ‘right’ work for us? Are we wasting our life? From there we go into the practical challenges of the day….and so it goes on. Our mind moves from one state of complexity to another, to another. All of the complexity, and the associated emotions start to mix in with each other, and we feel almost perpetually anxious. Things feel out of control, unresolved. We solve one problem only for two more to take its place. Our ‘feeling’ that life is complex and/or out of control bleeds into all of our tasks, making us less effective at all of them.

Moving from complexity to simplicity, to complexity:

For a meditator, the fundamental pattern of their consciousness changes. Like all of us, a meditator has complex life problems which s/he has to deal with. However, instead of moving from one complex problem to another, a meditator regularly returns their attention to a state of simplicity and non-complexity. So, for example I might go from thinking about the complex problem of ‘rasing my child right’ to a short period where my mind is simply focused on the pleasant feeling of relaxation in my body. From that state of simplicity, I might then think about the content of my next article, and write it. Then back to a state of simple body awareness. From there I might go onto an emotionally sensitive conversation with my neighbour about the volume of their music at night, then back to simplicity, and so it goes on…

A win-win between simplicity and complexity:

One of the ideas with meditation is that, by returning regularly to a state of simplicity, your ability to deal effectively with complex problems improves. By returning to simplicity, you can deal with one complex problem separately from the others, rather than have emotions from your work life negatively influencing your personal life, and vice versa. Regularly returning to simplicity gives you a stable center from which you can meet the challenges of your life without feeling so intimidated and off balance.

You don’t have to wait until you sit down quietly to do some formal meditation, you can choose to cultivate a state of simplicity at any time. For example, while you have your morning coffee break, simply choose to come back to your body and the taste of the coffee. Become regularly simple to return to the complexity of your life with appetite and enthusiasm!

By Toby Ouvry,, Contributor of //LIVE SIMPLY//