A Look at the Nature of Our Minds

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The nature of the mind might be considered to be like the jumbled static you hear on a radio. Or the sounds of a lot of people talking at once, loudly, on the bus or in a frenzied day in your office. Or a crazy day in traffic. A lot of input, a lot of distraction, not much direction.

When you are influenced by that, and it’s hard not to be, you can become distracted, agitated and annoyed. It becomes difficult for you to concentrate. Try getting jostled around in traffic while you are trying to work out some intricate problem in your head. Not so easy.

This is the state that many people are in when they come into my meditation class. Their minds are scattered and all over the place. Most come in afraid that they will never be able to quiet their minds and meditate because they are pulled in by the cacophony in their heads.

But it is actually okay to have that static going on. It is a normal state for most of us, most of the time. But it is extremely hard to “quiet” the mind. It is like wrestling with a demon if we try to hit the issue head on. It only makes the challenge more difficult, because it draws our attention to exactly that which we are trying to get rid of. Energy follows thought, and what you see is what you get!

A better way to approach this situation is to thinking about “stilling” the mind. Think about the time you were in a noisy room, and you became involved in your really interesting task. When you are doing something interesting, the noise disappears and the mind calms and becomes attentive. Or think about being at a really engrossing movie: the distractions of life disappear into the story line. All your senses are filled and it is as if nothing more existed. It is effortless.

As you move into meditation, you will find that it is interesting and your mind will follow it and eventually become still. Notice. Be curious. It really doesn’t matter what state your mind is in when you begin your meditation. It’s just so much noise. Trying to fight that and make yourself quiet is like trying to tame a tiger. Don’t feed that beast. Paying attention to the breath or the mantra you are doing draws you into a dynamic stillness and gives your brain a rest that is easy to stay with. You are not trying to quiet anything. You are fully present, allowing your attention to follow something much more interesting than static and noise.