Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mind Seeking Drama

The steady stream of thoughts moving through the mind often seems benign. It is simply a background hum, always there and largely unnoticed. We don’t even question its presence.

When life is difficult, when we suffer, we still may not notice the mind at work, but we certainly are in its grip. Mind loves drama. It feeds on it. We are dragged willy-nilly on its quest for drama and its quest to deepen any drama that we have become entangled in.

I have been learning about this for many years and my quest has been for less internal drama, none if possible. What I have learned from teachers everywhere, past and present, is that we must observe the mind as an essential first step to detaching from the stories and dramas it so loves.

Observing the mind allows one to stand back from these stories and dramas. It gives one breathing space. The drama is caused by attachment to a thought or story that has run through the mind. This flow of thought through the mind is constant; it is nothing that we make; it simply is. When we stand back and watch we realize that we are not the drama and not the mind. The mind is a tool for us to use but it is not our essential being. It is our essential being that stands back to watch.

We have a lifetime of believing that this tool, the mind, is actually our essential self. It takes time to stand back and watch the mind in action, to begin to see the space between our essential self and this tool. It takes time to begin to see the stories we have created with the mind, the thoughts we have latched onto with the mind. It takes time to realize that these creations of the mind are not even real.

When we recognize the mind as a tool rather than our essential selves, then we can choose to train it. The observing continues, but we can add mindfulness into the process. We can choose to focus on a mantra, a prayer, an action (creating a piece of artwork or music) and we can keep bringing the mind back to this focus. Our mind becomes stronger, the tendency for it to run after drama lessens, and peace grows within us. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a term that I've had a hard time connecting with over the years. When I read books by meditators and philosophers who speak of it, I lose some of their meaning. A book that I recently came across is helping me with that concept: Turning the Mind into an Ally, by Sakyong Mipham.

In it he writes: “Mindfulness is what we use to hold our minds to any object—the breath, a rock, or a banana—and awareness is the intelligence that tells us what we are doing.”

In this moment, mindfulness holds me to the subject, circumventing my instinct to get up and make a cup of tea because I can’t think of what to write. I am aware that my mind wants to leap away from the subject. It is mindfulness that keeps drawing the mind back to the subject.

The mind has been telling me that the word mindfulness doesn't mean anything. My higher self wants to practice mindfulness, to find my roots in the present moment (which is what mindfulness naturally leads to) but my mind dashes off sideways, declaring that focusing on the present moment with mindfulness is not important.

didn't write at all last week. My commitment to myself is to write at least once a week, and more when possible. Every time I thought of it, my mind went blank. There was no mindfulness, only mind leaping away.

As I have said before, mind is a tool. It is a fabulous tool. But it does need to be trained. We need to develop strength of mind, the ability to choose where to put our focus and to hold it there. Mindfulness is the word that describes that process and that state of being. The more that we practice mindfulness, in even the smallest things, the more we strengthen our mind. The more we strengthen our mind, the more we can center and hold our attention on the Divine. And when we can do that, all else flows with love. We are then held in quiet joy.