Stopping the Mind
One of the things I’ve always been curious about is how to stop the chatter that’s constantly in my mind. You know, that constant stream of thinking, evaluating, commenting, and back story conversation that’s always going on in the back of the mind? I’ve read many books on the subject and most call this condition “Monkey Mind.” Experts like Thich Nich Hanh stress the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Others talk about present moment awareness. But I think I may have hit upon something that works for me in achieving this goal. It’s nothing new; but like a pre-owned car, it’s new for me. I’m giving up believing in the power of my own mind.
At some point, the real you–not the personality you–must give up believing in the unceasing image streams created by the mind. Instead it must be replaced with an awareness that most everything the mind produces is little more than scenery –like grass and clouds–passing by. Nothing produced by the mind should be taken at face value as real or true. And that’s a new thing for me–this questioning and dismissing of thoughts and ideas. The mind constantly judges people, places and things as good or bad, right or wrong, and useful or not. Upon introspection, these things cannot be logically proven as true–and many, if not most times, can be logically disproven as false. The mind stream appears real. Its information appears certain and true. But if one stops and reflects about most any thought–this certainty crumbles and is easily contested or disproven. Therefore, I’ve concluded the mind is not to be trusted. Consulted yes, trusted no!
At the same time, the mind is always ruminating about the past and future. It is uncomfortable in the present moment and looks often to the future as a means of escaping present unpleasantness. The mind resists attempts at being presently focused–because when this happens the mind is essentially turned off–or at least uncomfortably (from the minds point of view) paused. This pausing of the mind happens as one gives single focus to the people, places, and things before it. Mind (Ego) does not like to be stripped of its power and authority–it seeks full control of the consciousness. This must be gently resisted again and again until the mind’s insistence is silenced.
It now makes sense why Buddhists insist upon present moment awareness–which includes paying attention to the breath, mantras, or whatever. Focus in the present moment stops the reliance upon the mind. As the false and unreal messages of the mind cease, peace begins.