Saturday, August 25, 2007

I realize more and more that my mind sometimes behaves like an undisciplined runner. At certain times, it can take off running in one direction or another for no discernible reason. When I need to focus my thoughts, I can do it quite well, but if I'm not alert, my thoughts can start racing down a road that leads to nothing but trouble. In those situations -- for instance, when the thoughts are full of fear or worries -- it's as if I have no control. Instead of driving my thoughts, my thoughts are driving me. I’m not worried about having streaks of undisciplined thinking now and then, because it’s the way all minds work at least some of the time. What bothers me, though, is that I do sometimes fall into an old habit of getting carried away by these wild thoughts. Instead of standing back and observing it as amusing but harmless behavior, I often get entirely captured by this unruly kind of thinking. I can spend many minutes racing with thoughts about a so-called problem, and then “wake up” and wonder where the time went. I guess what I need to learn to do is stay objective about my own thoughts. After all, my thoughts aren’t “me”. They’re simply passing phenomena, like the wind, like birds flitting by, and the best approach to them would be simply observing and appreciating. Instead of getting lost in the stray thoughts that come my way, I should just watch and be amused by them. Like a sailor at sea, I should learn to enjoy the capricious “waves” of thoughts that come my way -- be they fearful or brave, sad or happy -- without being controlled by them.

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