You move into an old house. Maybe a place with grounds and outhouses, and plenty of tall, ancient trees. The kind of place you might expect to find old, forgotten things. As you dig around in one of these dusty buildings, amongst various bits and pieces, you find a wrought iron mirror. It’s old and dirty, but you can tell it’s an item worth keeping. You take it into the house to clean it up.
You lay the old, dirty mirror on the large, wooden kitchen table, grab a rag and some soapy water, and begin to wipe away at the surface. The dust and grime are thick and caked on. You can barely tell there’s a mirror beneath it all. But still you wipe. No rush. Just one sweeping pass after another.
You don’t press too hard. It’s an antique after all. Besides, when you press hard your arm starts to ache. But you don’t press too lightly either because this dirt is stubborn. It requires a little effort. With that gentle effort you just keeping wiping. Wipe, wipe, wipe.
Slowly you begin to notice glimpses of the mirror surface below, reflecting only what comes before it. A little more here and there. Maybe it will take all evening. Maybe you’ll need to come back to it tomorrow! Maybe. But whatever the case, you just need to keep at it, one smooth pass after another.
I like to think about this image when I consider why I meditate. The project isn’t to create something new. My mind, my consciousness, are already there. Like the old mirror covered in grime they require some work to reveal. It’s not complicated work. It isn’t even particularly hard work in most cases. But it is work that demands a firm but gentle focus and a willingness to persist.