There are certain lessons in life that need constant repetition before they’ll sink in. When it comes to training the mind, into staying present and focused, this is just as relevant.
Developing mindfulness awards us improved decision making skills
Playing things through our mind, without the influence and force of untamed emotions, awards us a greater ability to make sensible, well reasoned, decisions. It really does concern that old adage of allowing our heart to rule our head, and it is this, that we’re seeking to curtail.
The emotions, that sometimes precede our thoughts, are the forces to gain greater awareness of. In an unthinking moment we can be driven to do and say things we later come to regret. We might think this is especially the domain of the young, yet when unguarded, we can generate foolish, emotionally driven choices, at any age. The ability to think before speaking or acting is invaluable. In terms of this ability improving quality of life, it cannot, be underestimated.
The regret spoken of in that last paragraph does of course relate to the emotion of guilt. The more of this we experience, the heavier the burden, carried through life
When sitting, meditating, the mind will wander. The mind craves the stimulation of thought and emotion; stimulation the mind has become very accustomed to. We might say the mind has become addicted to this. So, just as the repetition of certain thoughts and emotions creates this addiction, we can use this same phenomenon, when seeking to train the mind.
When the mind wanders it is an untrained puppy being allowed to wander its way into trouble
In this respect, there are times during meditation, that it can be a moment before we realise the mind has actually drifted away. The mind will often drift off point. When this is the case, we must gently remind ourselves of what we’re seeking to achieve. In other words, we must, once again, become aware of the nature of our thoughts. We must ask: What exactly am I thinking right now? We must gain the attention of that wandering, untrained, puppy.
When we’re then aware of the nature of our thoughts (are they fantasy? Are they of the past or future?) we can gently remind ourselves of the discipline we’re training the mind with. This could be awareness of our breathing or focusing single-pointedly on a part of the body; the very tip of the nose for example. We might be using a combination of methods.
When we cease the thinking process, remaining calm, present and impartial, we become emotionally neutral
It’s interesting to consider what comes first: the emotion or the thought. It’s my experience that emotions and thoughts are intertwined. Sometimes feelings precede thought (be this internal dialog or images) and sometimes thought precedes feelings. In this respect, often, when first settling down to meditate, we can have a very busy and restless mind. There can be residual, physical feelings and tensions, that must be allowed to dissipate before the body feels calm. Equally, we can be overstimulated with thoughts, that need to freely drift through the mind, before a calm, stillness, begins.
In meditation, with feelings being intertwined, all we need do, is gain control over runaway thoughts, to become emotionally calm
The purpose of our meditation practice might be to improve our decision making skills. We can also potentially change, or just improve upon, an overly impulsive nature. In this respect, once we’ve mastered meditation, we’re able to bring the mind back to our point of focus, before making any kind of responses. It is the act of bringing the mind back under control, (bringing the puppy to heal) before responding, that awards us the improved quality of life spoken about earlier. Less unthinking attitude and responses equals less guilt. It is those who carry little, or no guilt at all, that lead the freest of lives.
So there we are. The repetition, of bringing our awareness back to our point of focus, is the secret to gaining the stillness and calm required, for generating preferred, talented, choices.