The image of a mouse running frantically on a hamster wheel is ideal for explaining our preoccupation with certain worrying thoughts. As these thoughts cycle through our minds—over and over and over again—consuming all our Random-Access Memory, a.k.a. ‘RAM,’ in computer-speak—we sacrifice our cognitive pole positions for the slowest riders and drivers. Our slow thinking is now bound to hold up processing ability making life anything from frustrating to scary.
In other words, our ability to think consciously and with precision can often be severely undermined.
It is little wonder that during these times peace becomes a distant memory and joy has miraculously absented itself.
The Ideal Objective
Best of all when it comes to having the freedom to think is perhaps having the skill of emptying the mind when we want or need to.
This is a developed and a necessarily much-practised skill. It is better even than diverting the thinking processes onto other things, for it chooses for peace, or in other words, it stakes its claim on, or in, faith. It chooses not to care for extraneous issues.
First, we should attempt to understand the nature of our conscious thinking minds, in the layperson’s terms.
If our minds are crowded or clouded with all sorts of worries, information, plans or reflections we’re using valuable thinking repository already. It’s rather like weighing down an already significantly loaded pack-horse. There’s perhaps so little thinking space we can hardly move.
The mind is then less able to safely adapt, and therefore cater, to new information and much of this is critical. When we begin to forget things we’d normally remember we’ve got too much on our minds. This bad predominance is impacting us dynamically, because when we forget things we are even more loaded down mentally—often because of the guilt or shame of letting people or even ourselves down.
A better predominance is to have a freer mind, able to cope with the immediate flashes of inspiration, recall, and rapport and simply for peace between the ears and within the heart.
The Actual Practice
Actually freeing the mind is obviously harder than the discussion of it.
As mentioned previously, it’s really a case of developing a skill that requires much practise to practice it consistently. And, again, this is not merely the practice of diverting our attention onto other things, although some people happily chew selectively on the problems they have. This too is a skill; to have the mastery of self-discipline—or ability—to select the thought at any given time.
The actual practice is simple, and it surrounds focus or anti-focus. I’ve found the best way of doing it is actually through intentional napping and purposely emptying the mind in the process. But there are other ways.
As a practice in the awake state, focus on something simple without actually thinking about it. Practise this more and more until you start doing it more automatically i.e. without having to think about it.
In other words, you can do it when you can do it.
Don’t be too downhearted to acknowledge that for most of us, learning this process so it’s adopted with good effect can take years—there’s no better place to start than now. From the time we start we’ll always notice incremental improvements.
Most important always is to persist in adopting the new skill, even when there’s no early evidence of improvement. Results always come if we persist and are open to new ideas.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.