I don’t know how many times I have heard the excuse: I can’t meditate…or meditation is just not for me because I can’t focus or I’m too busy (we’ll talk about that one in another blog).
For now, I want to focus (no pun intended) on how we view the mind.
The mind has often been likened to a monkey, as in, I have a “ Monkey Mind”… the one that jumps from one thought to the another, like a monkey jumping from one branch to another.
The French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650), really didn’t do us any favour when he famously said: “I think; therefore I am”. This quote represents the way many of us see our mind … that we are our mind and we are our thoughts.
When we identify with our mind, we start losing sight of who we are and start believing whatever thoughts we have as true. We discard other perspectives and focus solely on the negative or positive thoughts we have.
When used with wisdom, our mind is one of our greatest assets. Through our mind we become aware and we become conscious. Every new insight we gain about our behaviour or our emotions comes from our ability to be open to awareness. From this awareness, we learn and grow as human beings. It becomes an issue when we give our mind too much power and credit for our own good.
A client of mine shared with me the story of how his mind had run wild over nothing. He had met someone for coffee to talk about a small change he wanted to make in the way his company dealt with a particular client. He felt confident that the change was positive for his company and the client. His companion, playing devil advocate I suppose, asked the “what if question”. Instead of helping my client see other perspectives, the “what if” scenario was enough to open the door and let the wild horse out of the corral.
Although there was absolutely no evidence that the change would not be welcomed, my client’s mind started running away like a wild horse with all kinds of negative and defeatist thoughts. The more he tried to calm the wild horse, his own mind, by trying to control it, the more his mind ran away, fuelling his fear and paralyzing him. He had fully identified with the reality of his mind, without even questioning it. He had become a slave to his mind.
Now imagine that instead of trying to control the wild horse with force we use a more gentle approach. We approach our mind from an objective perspective, recognizing its use yet not allowing it to bully us, slowly making it feel safe. What do you think would happen? My guess is that the wild horse most likely would calm down and get back into the corral.
So next time you feel the wild horse escaping the corral, here are a few tips to bring it back gently.
- Breathe deeply and connect to your breath
- Recognize that the mind is only a tool, just as much as our intuition or “gut” feel is
- Recognize that the mind’s task is to generate thousands of thoughts every day, no more, no less
- Challenge your thoughts: Is this really true? What evidence do I have that this is true?
- Always be gentle with yourself
- Never, never be self-judgmental. We all have monkeys in our mind that tease the wild horse to come out!
Use your mind wisely. It is a wonderful tool, waiting to serve you.
Thanks for visiting… As always, your comments are welcome
To your Well Being,