Transforming your Mind: From Garbage to Flowers


When Crazy is Normal

During a recent mindfulness meditation retreat, many participants found much humor and encouragement in the following quote, which keenly reflects upon what is often discovered in the process of sitting still and observing the mind:

 “Somewhere in this process, you will come face-to-face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse…utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way and you never noticed (Gunaratana, 1991)."

Meditation Misconception

New meditators are prone to misunderstandings about meditation in general and mindfulness in particular. Some students and patients tell me that, "I can't meditate because I can't stop my mind." They're relieved when I tell them that there is no requirement to stop the mind, calm the mind, or clear the mind. What's necessary is an intention to pay attention to the mind-body as it is, without judgement or striving to change it.

From Garbage to Flowers

I'll never forget the sage reply made by my first meditation teacher in response to another student's comment at a residential mindfulness meditation retreat. With great concern, the student stated, "I have a lot of garbage in my mind!" The teacher replied, "We all have a lot of garbage in our minds." This reminds me of the pithy Zen saying by Thich Nhat Hanh, "No mud, no lotus (Hanh, 2014)." Without tending to the garbage of your mind with acceptance, gentleness, kindness, compassion, and humor, the flower inside of your heart is not likely to bloom.


Gunaratana, H. (1991). Mindfulness in plain english. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Hanh, T.N. (2014). No mud, no lotus: The art of transforming suffering. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

© 2017 Larry Cammarata, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist and Mindfulness Educator

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