The mind is constantly moving and sometimes described as the ‘monkey mind’, but the things it jumps to are not completely random. Maybe you know that intuitively, but it helped me when I was first learning meditation to sit and watch the mind and understand why my mind is being pulled in different directions.
When we can see the relationship between the mind and thoughts it helps to lessen the attachment and weight of the thought.
There are two types of thoughts the mind typically jumps to.
Thoughts linked to emotions:
My meditation teacher described it like this – you say your mind isn’t good, you can’t focus in meditation or remember chants, but would you remember if someone owed you money?
The emotion linked to the memory strengthens it.
Another good example from my teacher is from one of his students with heartbreak – you’re sad because your boyfriend hurt you? When did this happen? 7 years ago? Your boyfriend hurt you once and since then you hurt yourself over and over.
Sometimes we’re remembering something so deeply as if it’s happening again right in this moment, the pain feels the same as it did all those years ago. We all do this, it’s normal.
I’m not here to tell you not to have these kinds of thoughts but to notice when the mind is doing it. Notice when your thoughts are linked to happiness, sadness, anger, frustration etc.
Please try not to judge it or become frustrated if you’re stuck in one of these cycles – there may be something in this memory you need to release, forgive or resolve. Use tools to bring you into the present day. Are you being hurt right now in this moment?
Thoughts linked to desires:
As humans our senses are incredibly powerful, we’re pulled around the world by our desires.
The senses can be fulfilled on both a physical and subtle mental level.
The mind is so strong that even when you’re thinking about one of your desires the physical reaction in the body can be the same as when you’re doing it.
What happens to the body when you think about food, sex, music?
We all know that feeling of being hungry and we can’t think about anything else until we’ve eaten something.
We’re not trying to remove every desire from the mind, imagine if we had no desire to eat or drink water – that would be a problem for survival.
But these days our senses are overloaded, and we’re exposed to a high level of noise, images and information so the mind is being pulled in directions our ancestors didn’t have to deal with. We need to get smart about what we’re being exposed to so that our thoughts aren’t in overdrive.
What are your senses exposed to? Does this impact your thoughts? Does it have a positive or negative impact on your mental health?