The mind loves to runaway with just about any thought or any feeling, sometimes one after another after another. Our mind is designed to think, to consider, to feel, to contemplate, to play, to lounge, to relax, to stress, to fight, to flight. Some of what we think is real or possible; most of it is just 'la la la bang bang bang smurf berry realness'.We are the only way, and we are in the way.
These thoughts and feelings can be made in a concerted effort or made randomly and disconnectedly. When applied with intention, we can actually accomplish nearly anything we apply our mind toward achieving. It is possible to train our minds to not work against our intentions. We can train our minds as gymnasts train their bodies and minds to achieve remarkable feats.
Some of these mental gymnastics can be quite productive and useful. We can build and grow things, feed ourselves and others, bring people together. We can also deconstruct reality in ways that can yield new opportunities for understanding ourselves, others and our environment, learning how to better maximize and utilize all that is available to us. Other times, these mental gymnastics can become an obstacle to achieving anything substantial or useful. We can even harm ourselves, others and our immediate environment in ways that are damaging and even irreparable.
We have the superior role in redirecting these mental misadventures. It can be quite difficult to halt or even slow these completely natural functions of mind. When our mind seems to set off on one of these misadventures, attempt to focus your mind on watching your body breathe. Our mind will want to return to its galloping, and that’s not only predictable, it’s natural. When this happens, acknowledge it for what it really is, 'thinking,' and go back to focusing on the breathing again. Try this out. Sometimes this method can work quite quickly and easily.
Make certain to have fun with how the mind wants to gallop off into the mental wilderness of thought and feeling. Absolutely do not be mean to the mind. Training our mind happens gradually and naturally, but it does take intention. We’re not trying to beat the life out of ourselves. What we do with our mind is so important. If we train our mind to abuse ourselves or others, we’ve missed not only the point but this opportunity. We are not trying to rid ourselves of our true nature, but to redirect that nature with our intention infused with patience, understanding and compassion.
When I struggle with this, I often don’t even realize that I’ve become lost. That’s why at the end of every day I try to just sit and take note of the current state of my mental well being. On those difficult days, especially the days I haven’t realized I’ve become lost in the mental wilderness, I find my mind is all tied up in knots. I can literally feel the tension of attachment and desperate grasping, of what, I really don’t know and couldn’t tell you.
To tackle this requires a bit more than just focusing on breathing. When our minds are knotted up, we have to visualize loosening that mental grip. This can take some real concerted mental effort. Often, when we find our mind in this condition, we’ve become completely exhausted and are possibly in a great deal of pain. However exhausted or in pain we might feel, it’s important to loosen these strangleholds if we can.
Allow the mind to wholly embrace these knots . . . to become one with these knots. This may seem counter-intuitive, but these knots are actually parts of our minds. We ignored them throughout the day, or even longer. We need to bring them closer to our awareness, not to push them away or suppress them. As we embrace these painful knots with awareness, we can visualize the knots loosening. Just like an actual knot in a shoe lace or a rope, you sometimes have to work at it for awhile before you’re able to make some progress. If you begin to struggle with the knot, it often makes it much worse.
The idea is never to struggle against our nature, but to understand and work with it instead. We’re not trying to break our spirit. We want to do something with this mind, with this life. We don’t want to beat our minds into submission; we want to free our minds into action and exploration. We want to use our nature as an asset and not as an adversary.
It can be so easy to fall back into old familiar patterns, unaware we’re tying ourselves up into mental knots once again. When we catch ourselves returning to these mental misadventures, simply call it for what it is, ‘thinking,’ and let it go once again. As we become more accustomed to being gentle with ourselves in these moments, we begin to transform our lives with our intentions on the spot.
These knots may be comprised of aspects of our mind, but these knots aren’t the natural state of our mind. That is why it requires so much concerted effort and intention to heal. These exercises can be used wherever and whenever we find ourselves. We are the only ones that can do the work. It starts with the intention, and then we have to apply the action.
When are we going to do something about our life? Where do we start?
We are the only way, and we are in the way. It can begin right now, and it starts with intention.