OK. Here is my thought about thinking.
There is a large space in my mind. Even though I know the anatomy of my beautiful brain is quite small, the amount of data that comes and goes there is quite large.
People come and go into this space. Each person represents a story. A few of them visit often and a very few of them settle in to be near me. They talk to me. The visitors tend to have stories and the stories are sequential. They are long, shaggy dog stories and I have heard them all before. The stories that are unique are told to me outside this room, where I can examine them and enjoy them. Or puzzle them out. They are my stories.
When a certain person or idea continues to nag me I get out a little signboard and put on it a label that says: Go away, You are an idea that has come to me some other time and it is not unique. It is just an ordinary and uninteresting idea. I’ve had that thought another day. Go away and leave me in stillness.
Sometimes that works. When the thoughts are simple ones.
The most insistent, repetitive thoughts are the tough ones and certainly the most interesting. About them I am very curious. Sometimes I see them as words. Sometimes as pictures. When I first started to learn to meditate I would lie awake at night and worry about these thoughts. Over and over again, chafing at being awake. A first step for me was to say to myself: I am old enough that just lying here, being still, is restful. I am old enough now that I don’t need a lot of sleep for rebuilding of cells in my body. But then there were still the obnoxious thoughts.
So the trick, oldest of all– certainly not an original idea – would be to picture sheep jumping over a stile. I label each little creature with one of these ideas and watch them go. Of course they go and they return as well. But, after awhile, the ideas become
dispassionate. Cartoons. Creatures without personal meaning. In the daylight I wonder who was the first person who thought of this device for falling asleep. Perhaps the shepherd, concerned for individual animals, a true worry. For us, sheep are a bit more abstract.
Just playful thoughts.
My meditation practice changes, day by day. I’m such a curious person, always asking Why? I find it difficult to say: Well, that just is. There is a long winding pathway between escaping inside images or mantras for rest and learning how to sit with what is.
How about you?
Put in a comment. What is your story?