Originally this reminder was titled “making friends with the mind.” But the mind isn’t actually a thing. We call the physical gray matter inside of our head “the brain,” but that is not what we are referring to when we speak of the mind.
So what is it? I don’t think any of us know, and yet we use the word so freely. What we call the mind seems to be the concept we have of the collection of past thoughts, memories, and feelings that we are responding to in the present moment. We think this response happens in the so-called non-existent mind.
The real issue is our relationship to thoughts. You may hear some non-dual teachers disparage thought, or talk about thoughts in a way that leads you to believe that you should discredit all of them–that somehow thinking is bad.
But it is important to make friends with our thoughts. Unless we honestly and truly learn how thoughts serve, and what they can and cannot do—in other words, befriend them—we won’t be able to place them in their proper context.
Thoughts are very, very powerful. They can easily, and generally do, rule our lives. They are responses that lag just behind the present moment, grasping or rejecting what just occurred. Either we want more of that experience, or much less—if it was unpleasant—so the mind sets about plotting how to make our preference happen in an imaginary future. Hence, most of them are meaningless—not belittlement, just fact. Chewing on what might or might not happen in an illusory future might be fun, or anxiety-ridden, but not meaningful.
It takes some thinking to navigate life successfully: make appointments on time, catch an airplane, cross at a crosswalk—with the light—so we aren’t mowed down. But be honest with yourself about the main content of your thoughts. Consider how much energy your preferencing thoughts take. For some people, these thoughts eat up night upon night of sleep.
Only a tiny percentage of thinking has any real usefulness. When this is clearly seen, thoughts become far less compelling, and occur less rapidly. Because we are not fighting them, or making them wrong—which seems to aggravate their speed—they can take their place in the natural order of things—useful when required, but not needed in many moments.
This opens up space. The space, the alive emptiness between thoughts—that’s where our direct contact with life actually happens. Out of that space, life can unfold and take care of itself, can respond efficiently and clearly—not to what we think about what is happening—but to the actual living, moving, breathing occurrence.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013