THIS PAGE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
The mind is such a complicated ‘organ’ that it almost resembles an organism in its own right. It self-generates thoughts, emotions and feelings to such an extent that we tend to feel out of control at times.
Craig Hassed. medical doctor and Mindfulness guru at Monash University, taught me a nice analogy that taming the mind is like taming a puppy. A mind, like a puppy needs ‘training’. We cannot ignore it, yell at it or spoil it by letting it do its own thing.The same applies to the mind. We have to train the mind while remaining compassionate, consistent and gentle, in the same way as we train a puppy.
Let’s have a look at some of the troublesome tendencies of the mind, which we all have experienced from time to time.
Tendencies of the mind
- The mind is like a self-generating organism, that continuously produces new combinations of thoughts all by itself. The mind is able to twist truths, mix up memories and make lies believable. With awareness, focus and the ability of discrimination, we are more likely able to discern between the thoughts that are true and the things that are spontaneous conjectures
- The mind is insatiable – The mind is never satisfied and is always looking for entertainment. It is quick and fluid, forever seeking involvement. As soon as we realize we don’t have to appease the mind all the time (give in to the puppy’s constant demands) the more peaceful we will feel.
- The mind is attracted to drama, hence the popularity of gossip magazines.
- The mind habitually visits trauma from the past, causing us to re-experience pain, shame or guilt. We need to remind ourselves that we have learned our lesson and so be it. We also need to accept that this event happened in the past, so we need to leave it there. We cannot change the past, even if the mind wishes to do so. Accepting the impossibility gives us the sense of closure, even if we need to do this over and over again. Eventually, the strong sensations associated with reliving an event from the past will lose their strength.
- The mind loves to ‘catastrophy’, which is anticipating dramas in the future. This tendency is one of the major contributors to us feeling anxious.
Scientific research has found that when the mind experiences the present moment, it appears to be balanced, still and focused. Our training is geared towards keeping the mind in the present moment through mindfulness practices.
- The mind is focused on the negative – we learn through negative experiences, so the mind is programmed to focus on these negative in order to avoid mistakes in the future. But this tendency becomes problematic if the mind starts to dwell on negativity for long periods of time.
- The mind is attached to sensory perception and gratification – if you had a bit of chocolate you like, the mind immediately wants more. If someone makes us happy, we want to be with this person more and more, sometimes to the point of obsession, so awareness is crucial. We need to keep perspective of the bigger, long term fulfillment of our dreams and desired outcomes.
- The mind constantly chatters, criticizes and makes judgments. This is part of our mind is referred to as ego and represent us as a rather complicated individual. Our formation of ego is dependent on our environment, past experiences and culturally embedded norms and values. For further details on the complications of our inner chatter, you may wish to look at the concepts of the Monkey Mind and Committee of the Mind.
- Like the body, the mind works habitually. Repeating patterns that have been set in place and often certain habits run in families for a long time (called Samskara). Some of these patterns, like: avoiding the truth, procrastinating, no desire to focus, over-stimulation etc., can be destructive and are often hard to break. Like a body, which responds well to physical training, the mind is able to do the same and responds well to mental training.
- The mind has a part, which is labeled the reactive mind, where we respond to urges and impulses without giving too it much thought. It is a good part of the mind when we pull ourselves away from dangerous situations, but when we receive an insult or criticism, our reactive mind can get us into trouble by blurting something out which we may regret. Practicing speech delay and paying attention to what has been said, can save our day.
Once we understand all aspects of the mind we will slowly start to understand ourselves better and we will find it easier to live with ourselves too. To have compassion and understanding for the self is for many a big breakthrough towards a more peaceful existence.