Meeting Thoughts Wisely
By Kaveri Patel
You who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still.
I know you’re tired.
I also know it’s not your fault.
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes.
You’ve forgotten something again.
You need to prepare for that or else.
You should have done that differently.
What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled.
The Middle Way – finding balance
What a beautiful way to invite us to reconnect with life. It’s an invitation to unhook from the thinking mind as our tendency is to move through life with little awareness, a lot of judgment and a sense of an impending deadline. We live in a world of virtual thoughts and so it makes sense that as a society we are quite frequently stressed out, sad, discouraged and overwhelmed! The practice of mindfulness invites us to re-connect with life as it is instead of how we want/don’t want it to be. This is the middle way the Buddha spoke of when he stated that freedom from suffering is possible.
Living in a world of virtual thoughts is exhausting…
As in the poem above, it often feels if thoughts come like a swarm of bees threatening to sting us if we pause. When we practice mindfulness the invitation is to stop, pause and come into contact with the direct experience of life in real time. Instead of thinking about what’s next on the virtual to do list we shift our attention to the sensation of the breath, we feel, sense and open to what is is arising in the moment. As we do this, we come into direct contact with the aliveness, the vibrancy, the love, the sorrow, the pain, the joy. In taking moments to be present with what is arising, as it’s happening, we see life beyond our thoughts about it. This is the freedom Buddha spoke of. It’s challenging as the momentum of the mind is strong and our tendency to think is a conditioned way of moving through life. We may find that when there is a minute to pause we simply move on as our patterned tendency is to keep busy, get distracted and move on.
All aboard the thought train!
So this tendency to think is habit and it’s our conditioning. Gil Fronsdal compares this to getting on the thought train. A thought comes into your awareness and then you hop on the train and more thoughts follow. The sad part is that the train is taking you into the future or the past; into the territory of fear, anxiety, depression, sadness, catastrophic thinking and on and on. Thoughts and emotions merge and before you know it, the thoughts become a story and you’re reacting to a story that based on an illusion created by the mind!
Mindfulness is an invitation to reconnect with the aliveness all around us…
Instead of travelling down the habitual path of thinking, mindfulness invites us to step out of the thoughts and instead notice them as their happening in real time. We disengage from thinking and actually recognize the process of thinking. We watch with curiosity as thoughts unfold and we expand the awareness to notice what’s happening in the body and heart as thoughts arise within the space of awareness. This breaking away from being lost in thoughts is like a reset button that allows us to come into balance with life as it really is. As we do this, we connect with wisdom which allows us to respond to what is happening in ways that are connecting, kind and compassionate.
An invitation to practice…
Take this opportunity right now to notice how your thoughts are? How are you relating to your thoughts? Is there curiosity or resistance? How is the body? Is it relaxed, contracted, numb? What emotion is present? How are you relating to the emotion? How is the heart? Are you able to respond with compassion, gratitude or kindness?
As we let go of living in our stories we come into direct contact with the aliveness that is all around us. It is an invitation to rejoin this vibrant, precious life.
A wise mindfulness teacher, Ajahn Chah invites us to,” Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.”
May you be well…