A Different Kind of Brainwashing

“Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless — like water.” Chances are, you’re familiar with this Bruce Lee quote. Even 50 years after his death, the famous martial artist’s “Be water” analogy is still making a splash. In her book Be Water, My Friend, Bruce’s daughter Shannon recommends the line as a guided visualization.

“I picture my mind like a sacred bowl filled with all my thoughts and feelings of the day, and as I say or think the words I picture all those thoughts emptying out and washing down through my body like a gentle waterfall. I let the worries, the to-do lists, and the stress just filter down through my being and drain into the earth.” Wow! What a powerful image!

“Then,” Shannon continues, “I sit quietly as the bowl of my mind refills with clean, clear, still water or white light or whatever feels good. You can also view your empty bowl as an invitation for it to fill with whatever you need to see or feel in that moment. The important thing is not to force a vision or a feeling. Just allow. And if nothing comes, then fill your bowl with clear water or light and wash it down your body once again.”

Collect. Drain. Refill. Rinse. Repeat. Having tried Shannon’s exercise many times as part of my daily meditation, I can say it makes for a great “brainwashing” indeed.

I imagine a trap door in the bottom of the bowl, and sometimes, as it opens, the many oddly shaped objects representing my thoughts resist falling out. Usually, there are specks of dust and dirt left after everything is gone. So naturally, I must rinse the bowl with water. As I see the elixir of life pour into the bowl made of glass in front of my inner eye, I might even get goosebumps from the “coldness” of the water. And by the time that, too, washes down through the trap door, my bowl is nice and clean — and so is my brain, ready to start the day with a little less bias and a good deal more calm.

Try it! Wash your brain. Be formless. Shapeless — like water. Empty your mind, and start the day with a clean slate.