Sometimes when we sit down and meditate, we might suddenly be flooded by an array of crazy and weird thoughts. In this article I will explain why this usually happens and how to deal with this common phenomenon. I might also explain why the Buddha could have been an alien invader trying to brain-wash us into being peaceful and happy, or why I happen to believe that he abducted me yesterday in order to tell me that I need to save the world from an evil force called “Quast-Man” – whops I got sidetracked there by a weird thought… let’s move on 😉
Whatever our mind produces comes from what is has been fed. The mind is continuously ingesting various kinds of meals. We are feeding it through the six senses, the gates of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and the mental content itself. If we are watching a violent movie for example, we are feeding violent content into our mind. If we have a nice conversation, it is stored as well.
Everything we are feeding to our mind will be digested. It extracts information, compares it to known processes, determines whether there is danger or not and continuously wanders off into the future and past to make sure it “will be fine”. The waste product of mental conditioning are random thoughts and associations that run almost the entire day and night long.
When we eat poisonous food we will get food-poisoning (you don’t say!). And the natural reaction of the body would be to get it all out as fast as possible. There’s nothing wrong with this natural reaction even though it doesn’t feel particularly pleasant. The same can be said of the mind. The mind simply replays what it is currently digesting. However, if we don’t get involved with the natural play of our mind, if we don’t care about it, the content will slowly dissolve.
The problem is that we care about, are invested, involved and bound up with the content of our mind. Once we are not invested in the content – weird or normal – it starts to vanish. The reason why we often feel as if we are attacked by our own thoughts or emotions is resistance or aversion. As long as we are resisting the present experience in some way, we are building tension. It’s this tension that’s experienced as unbearable – not the actual thoughts themselves.
As I mentioned above, it’s our resistance and our attachment that are at the root of the problem. Whenever we suffer, we can observe a sort of tension in the background. This tension arises as a result of craving – the wish for something to go away or the wish for something to stay. Craving is the energy of like/dislike or wanting/not-wanting. That’s where suffering begins. When the clear seeing stops and the managing/doing/trying starts – that’s where we become tense.
When we cultivate our ability of seeing instead of doing/trying something, we will gradually develop the skill of letting go. Trying to arrange weird thoughts and emotions so that they are ideal or absent is a never-ending task. Thoughts and emotions are simple natural processes. Therefore look through them, understand them and see them for what they are – just thoughts and emotions. This detached form of observation can truly offer a great sense of release and freedom. It leads directly to inner peace.
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