Does it sometimes feel like your mind is a little out of control… just chattering away with thoughts you didn’t ask for? You might notice this most when trying to meditate but even throughout the day, the mind just pops out random thoughts and you wonder, where did that come from??
For a great many people, there is so much identification with the mind that there isn’t even awareness that this is happening all the time. People just associate their very selves with the thoughts without any discernment. The first thing to realize is that we are not the mind, which is an early lesson in meditation – a certain level of separation is created between that which is aware, and the tool that is the mind. With this little bit of space, we can become more aware and recognize the so-called monkey mind.
So the next question is, can we change the tendency of this runaway mind? Well, first let’s examine why the mind is this way. You see, the mind is like a computer which produces thoughts based on previous inputs. So a lifetime of conscious and unconscious sensory and karmic inputs have gone into its memory banks, and based on that foundation, thoughts are constantly produced. Beyond that, the way we are from an emotional and mental point of view is also based on accumulated karma from various incarnations. We know siblings growing up in the same household have very different mental states, so there is genetic karma at play in the mind as well.
The thought generation is based on patterns that have been forged over one’s current and past lives. Left to its own, a mind will continue to repeat mental patterns and further create deeper impressions. However, being a human being means having conscious choice and creative power. We absolutely have the power to change our mental framework. It may seem daunting, especially for those suffering from certain mental irregularities. But science has proven this – psychiatry is all about this. Yet, even without clinical behavioral modifications, yoga offers a path.
It begins with a shift in perspective. Most of us are so centered on ourselves that everything that happens in life is first and foremost gauged on the impact to the egoic self… “what does this mean to me?” It takes a real shift to begin to think in cosmic terms… “what is this little mind in relation to the unimaginable universe?” This gear-shift tunes us to the cosmic play instead of our own little life script. There is a dynamic transformation that frees us from the limitations of a compulsive little mind and opens us up to the Divine Mind. This is conscious thinking, and it breaks up the karmic framework.
With an expansive outlook comes a level of empowerment over the focus of the mind. Now we begin to apply discipline and learn concentration, contemplation, and then meditation. Single-pointed thinking teaches the mind to zero in and ultimately even meld with the object of focus. Clearly this take practice but the mind is meant to be that sharp tool. The problem lies in the fact that many of us are still learning how to use this instrument – why is the most complex organ ever created in nature a source of great distress to so many? We need to break the karmic auto-pilot and take conscious control. In fact this is the great tenet of Buddhist practice – to take control of one’s mind.
As Gautama Buddha said, we are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
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