There are billions of people on our planet and yet, amazingly, each one of us has a completely different mind with exclusive thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. One may desire to be an astronaut and walk on the moon, another a caregiver helping the elderly, another gets lost in a world of delusion or depression.
This mind is able to grasp the most complicated technical theories or create beautiful works of art, yet it can just as easily be distracted by meaningless trivia or get painfully addicted to heroin. Have you ever wondered about your own mind? How it can move so quickly from feeling good to despair, from clarity to utter confusion, and all in just a moment?
In yoga and meditation we teach to quiet the mind, to sink into a quiet inner spaciousness free of the normal babble and dramas. Some find this hard to do as, like a monkey, the mind is used to running amok and having its own way.
“When you begin to watch your mind, it becomes careful. It’s almost like the moment you don’t watch your children, they’re ready to get into some mischief. If you keep an eye on them, they will be quiet. The mind is like that – when it knows that you’re watching, it will behave.” — Swami Satchidananda
Our thoughts can be brilliantly productive but they can just as easily generate confusion or even fear. For no matter how intellectually astute or creative we are, this may have little or no effect upon habitual feelings such as shame, guilt, anger, or insecurity.
Over time these fears and neuroses become like iron bars that surround us, immovable and fixed. How often have you heard it said, “This is just the way I am, I can’t (or won’t) change!” As we unfortunately believe our fleeting thoughts are real, so we just have to live with and suffer the consequences.
It should be noted here that we are talking about the ego-mind that we deal with daily and gets so caught up in itself that it cannot see outside of its basic selfish nature. Through meditation we can become aware of its games and go beyond the fixation of “all about me” to see the wisdom-mind that is radiant, altruistic and free.
But being locked in the mind is like having your head stuck in a cardboard box with no escape. All we are able to see are our own issues going round and round. The mind that perpetually repeats itself becomes its own enemy, as resentments, hurt, desire, and bitterness are relentless.
Yet, to top it all, this is considered to be normal. We even proclaim, “My mind is so busy it’s driving me crazy!” as if this were some sort of achievement. Despite that the mind is habitual and neurotic, we continue to believe our issues are real and play the dramas out over and again, like a dog chasing its own tail.
So, how do we break this pattern? We only find peace when we finally get the message that to be living inside our heads all the time is actually not much fun. When we reach such a point of dissatisfaction and have had our fill of suffering, when the monkey mind is exhausted, then a shift can begin to take place, a shift of emphasis.
And we discover that there is a place we can function from that is not subject to such chaos or limited by fear or neuroses, but is actually joyful, creative, meaningful and loving.
From being locked into the head with all its attendant fears and manifestations, we become aware that there is this other part of our being that operates in a different way and is actually a source of great richness, a wealth that cannot be squandered or lost. We realize that if we can come out of the endlessly distracted and discursive mind and come into the heart, then we find a deeper happiness awaiting us that we had never realized existed.
Where do we point when we say “me”? We point to our heart, don’t we? Tibetan Buddhists says the true mind is the heart. We can cultivate this heart awareness through meditation: Breathing into the area of the heart, silently repeat, “May I be well, may I be filled with loving kindness. May all beings be well, may all beings be filled with loving kindness.”
You can also repeat this to yourself throughout the day whenever your monkey mind peaks out its head.
So this is when losing your mind becomes something you really want to do!
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