The mind is a mysterious thing, it’s true, but some things about it are not that mysterious and can be observed through a simple practice giving us a brief insight into everything.
Read this first and then practice to get a front row seat into how your mind works:
- Close your eyes and begin to open the mind to just hearing sounds
- Notice the thoughts that begin to comment on or create stories around the sounds
- Notice how the mind wants to move away from or toward certain sounds
- Become aware of how all sounds come and go
- As it ends be aware of how your body feels
Okay, now practice for 1 minute.
After you practice here is the famous question…drum roll…What did you notice about your mind?
For me, I often notice the transient nature of sounds, which is just a basic fact of life when it comes to all things whether its thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds, or tastes. It’s the famous saying, “This too shall pass.”
I also notice that my mind starts making associations around the sounds, if an airplane flies overhead, I see a picture of an airplane in my mind and perhaps a story around the last or next flight I’m going to be on begins to replay or rehearse. Of course this is going to happen; there are billions of connections in the brain occurring at any given moment, so a lot of associations that can be made.
I also notice that my body gets tense when my mind doesn’t like certain sounds and opens up when I hear sounds I do like.
Usually by the end my body is often calm, showing me that when I’m aware of the present moment it can often have a calming effect.
How does this give us a brief insight into everything?
When you come to think of it the mind reacts in the same way to everything. There’s always a stimulus, whether it’s a new project at work, a fight with your friend, or the feeling of the sunshine splashing on your face on a cool fall day. The mind then reacts with a story about that stimulus that then leads to new feeling states.
If you know this, it can help pop you out of the auto-pilot reaction and not take your reactions too seriously. When we get tangled up in anxiety about the future, grief about the past or rage full anger about something we think somebody else thinks, we can recognize that our mind is just doing what it always does, hooking into some stimulus, creating a story around it, and getting us going. One thing we also know is that whatever feeling is here will come and go, just like sounds.
The thing to do is then anchor yourself to something in the present moment and that can even be the feeling itself. Become curious about it, let it be your teacher just like the sounds into the transient nature of all things. Allow it to show you that if you can use it as an anchor to the present moment, you can experience more freedom in your life.
And that’s a brief insight into everything.
Please share your thoughts and experiences below. Allow this to be a community where we learn from one another.
Photo by mikeyskatie, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.