How busy is YOUR mind?
I imagine the minds of the masters I admire most to be beautiful hilltop scenes. Wide open skies. The rare thought passing by as an occasional wispy cloud.
In contrast, my mind frequently feels like a busy New York City subway station with thoughts running around and coming and going as if the scene were on fast-forward. The neutral thoughts might seem harmless enough, but they make the mind feel busy and crowded. They are things like planning, day dreaming, and imagining conversations. And the sticky thoughts slow the pace, but because they are all-consuming, they make the mind feel heavy, not spacious.
If we think of each of these thoughts as having an energetic consequence, we have to ask ourselves what effect they are having on our spirits.
The neutral thoughts rushing around do have a consequence, in that they take up space and crowd out other things. Sitting quietly on a bench in that busy station are intuition and inspiration. How will we ever see them in all that commotion?
The sticky thoughts have a profound effect on us. In the same way a loving thought carries powerful energy with it, so does self-judgment.
And ALL of these thoughts, sticky or neutral, pull us from the present moment.
So, here is a simple practice for when your thoughts become too much of a distraction.
- First, notice your thought and name it. It sounds easy enough, but the trick is to notice, name, and NOT judge it. By naming it, you will start to notice trends that you can examine more closely during a time set aside to do that. When you are ready to give it your full attention, you can dig into those thought patterns that may be holding you back. For now, just notice and name. Judgment, planning, worrying, day-dreaming.
- Second, ask yourself, “What is important now?” This is how you pull yourself back into the present moment. Yes, maybe you need to immediately write down that thing you remembered. Or maybe you’ll be so stuck to something, you know you need to take action now. But most of the time, the important thing in this moment will be the task you are working on or the person you are with. Whatever we are doing will benefit from us BEING present.
I like to remind myself that even the greatest masters have a little bit of monkey mind. After all, they are human like the rest of us. But like them, we can all learn to empty the space a little and open ourselves to those powerful thoughts that are quietly waiting to be seen.