Once Buddha was walking along with his disciples in a forest on a very hot day. After a few hours of venturing deep inside, they decided to rest. Buddha then told his disciples that he was getting old and was tired. He asked his disciple Ananda to go to a stream they had crossed some time ago and fetch some water to drink. They had passed this stream earlier and it was around 3 miles behind. Ananda immediately stood up, collected Buddha's begging bowl and started to proceed.
When Ananda reached the stream, he saw that some bullock carts had passed and the water was now muddy and dirty, completely polluted. There were twigs and fallen leaves floating on the top which were obviously stirred up from the river bed. He was disappointed as the water was now unfit for drinking. How could he fetch dirty water for his master. So he went back empty handed and told Buddha the problem. Ananda then told Buddha that there's a big river ahead and he will go there to get clean water. But Buddha declined. He asked Ananda to go back to the same stream and fetch him water.
Ananda could not disobey Buddha. Who would disobey their own master? He was worried that he needed to walk back the same distance and deep inside he knew that it would still be dirty. It would be such a waste of time. As he was preparing to leave once again, Buddha asked him not to come back unless he gets clear water. He asked Ananda to wait there if needed.
Ananda walked all the way back. And yes, the water was still dirty. How could Buddha not know this? And he wasn't even supposed to return without clean water. Ananda was helpless. So he sat down by the bank of the muddy stream watching the water flow by. Several minutes passed and he just sat there quietly. And needless to say, slowly it started turning clean. After a few more minutes, it was crystal clear. Ananda quickly gathered enough water and went back immersed in joy. When he saw Buddha again, he gave him the bowl and fell on his feet thanking him. Buddha was surprised. He said it was He who should thank Ananda, who took the trouble to go all the way back and fetch water.
Ananda then confessed to Buddha. "At first, when you told me to go back, I was angry. I was angry because I knew it would be a waste of time going all the way there as the water would be dirty. Also you didn't allow me to go to the river nearby which would have clean water in abundance. When I reached the place, I got restless because my guess was right. It was still dirty. But I realised that my mind was the same as the stream. I can dive into this stream and it will still be dirty. I can dive into my restless mind and I will still be agitated. So I did as you said. I waited. I sat on the bank and observed. I sat on one corner of my mind and observed. Then the mud settled down taking with it broken twigs and dead leaves, soon it was clear water. My mind calmed down. Unwanted worries, uncomfortable thoughts and anger all went away and my mind too was clear."
This is what meditation is. You sit on one edge of your mind and observe. You observe your breathing, your fickle mindedness and just keep observing. You don't give energy to your thoughts. Soon everything settles down and in this effortless process, you gain peace of mind. And when there is peace inside you, it spreads outside. It also gives you the strength the change your outlook towards any problems. When your mind is agitated and disturbed, just wait it out. Allow the problems to settle down. Only then will you start feeling better. After that you will find clarity, a clear solution to your problems. Breathe! All you have to do is just breathe! :)