Why is it so important to be be in charge of our minds rather than the other way around?
Note: This is like asking why isn’t it okay to let your 10 year old son drive around in your car.
You can either work your mind or it can work you. If you work it, it can be an amazing tool, sharp and incisive. If it works you, it will be like you have a circus full of monkeys in your head all day and all night.
This idea that that you can be in charge of your mind rather than the other way around is kind of revolutionary to some people. They get angsty, much in the same way that if you tell them that drinking milk is not going to make their bones stronger (ha! see what I did there?). You see, our culture has a long history of promoting the mind, the powers of the intellect, and demoting just about everything else. We have been told that we think therefore we are. Descartes! You have a lot to say for yourself! In fact, we are much more than our thoughts. Truthfully? We are not our thoughts at all. Often, our thoughts are mostly just the idle whispering of an undisciplined mind, and not to be believed.
The first time I came across this concept was sometime in my teenage years. My mother, O wise woman whom I love so much, told me that we should think of our mind in the same way that we think of our arm or our leg – as in, we use it when we need it, and when not needed, it should be still and quiet. I felt quite jolted by this information, and I turned it over in my heart for some time. See, people think they can only understand things through their mind, but it’s not true. I do a lot of understanding through my heart – what does this information/event/person/situation feel like, I ask myself. Does it feel true? I decided that it did feel true, and have spent the subsequent 25 years or so operating as if in fact it is true. This makes me odd, apparently :).
Not that our mind isn’t useful mind you. It is. Just not in the way that most people use it. We need our mind to be active, sharp, decisive and clear. We can get a lot done with a mind like that. I am studying at University level and I help educate children – I use my mind every day. It’s a good mind, and I am fond of it. Our minds are extremely useful when it come to working through problems, assessing a situation or breaking a complex problem down into simpler parts. But often our minds are not used like that at all. To get the best out of our minds, we need to put it in its place and give it some discipline. How?
Call it out on its bullshit.
Observe, listen but do not participate.
Focus on the present.
Eckhart Tolle talks about the silent watcher behind our thoughts. When all thoughts are silent, when everything else is stripped away – that is who we are. Our soul, our higher self, our inner self – it has many names. That is who is the boss. When this voice speaks, listen.
“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.
– Eckhart Tolle