Eye don’t mind, literally. Well, most of the time. To me, it’s just the mind and no longer my mind. I can lose it by keeping up with where my attention is shifting to, but it always comes back. Unless watched carefully the mind will sneak up on me, pull me in, and consume me before I even know what’s happening. There is so much talk about mindfulness these days; I want to talk about mindlessness.
The phenomenon of the mind is like the weather, one day it’s sunny, the next it’s windy and overcast and sometimes even stormy. Local weather is never static and is constantly influenced as the planet’s dynamic atmosphere as a whole changes. Now consider the space in which the weather happens. We will get to this soon.
I just returned to my old training base of seasons past to prepare for the big push towards the Olympics next summer. Upon returning, I became aware of my mind slipping into old familiar reflexive thought patterns, like printouts from a computer programme; both positive and negative.
Until recently, these thoughts would have pulled me away from living and engulfed me from all around like they used to with painful reminders of how I would be sacrificing vitality, hopefully in return for fast swimming. The mind used to become my reality easily, and naturally would elicit a strong mental and physical reaction from me.
When that would happen, the more I reacted with dread or resistance to the negative notion, the more complex and powerful the thought patterns became, which in turn would take me even further away from the actual reality of here and now. In this way, if left unchecked, the mind can become a cancer that will consume vital energy and grow until there is no life left.
Sadly, I have seen this happen to many people. Most people spend their whole lives suffering in their minds, removed from life and caught up in labels that merge into thoughts, coalescing into ideas which then become the stories of their artificial subjective reality. The mind, with the idea it contains of itself, that has other ideas about itself, is an interesting phenomenon of nature indeed.
Somewhere in our distant evolutionary history, the mind showed up, and I am sure it must have aided our ancestors chances of survival with its clever idea of a “me”, that must survive and go on living against all odds. Undoubtedly, since its arrival in our early hominid ancestors, it has become increasingly layered and complex with the advent of language, philosophy and other abstract thought. The mind can be beautiful or terrifying. However, you are not your mind!
We are human beings and not human minds. In some human beings, sometimes accidentally, or due to the help of others, a rift is driven between the mind and reality, or the mind is taken as far as it can go. The mind never wants this to happen, but when this occurs, something wonderful unfolds. The mind is then seen for what it is; as just the mind and not ourselves. This brings an instantaneous shift in perspective to become the free observer of the mind and the knower of thoughts, but no longer the thinker of thoughts that are trapped inside the mind.
Everyone’s mind is unique, yet they all are of the same constitution. The mind is basically three things. It’s a collection of hereditary attributes that you inherited in your DNA. Much in the same way that certain breeds of dogs react in a certain predictable way due to their genetics, like it or not, so do you.
Your mind is also an amalgamation of all your past experiences which have influenced and molded it into its current state. Thirdly, your mind is also the sum total of the unique interactions between the two aforementioned constituents. Simply put, your mind is just another expression of cause and effect.
You can either be your attention, observing your being, by following “thisness” wherever it takes you, even observing the mind. Or, you can be your mind, where you no longer have the power of attention, and it has you at its mercy. When we observe the mind long enough, we get to know this strange being called “me” and how it likes to operate. This is where true humour starts.
Once we become aware of the mind, instead of being the mind, we then have the power to choose to follow the reflexive pattern of thoughts if we like, or not. If the thoughts are negative, we can drop them and say “that’s just a thought” and replace it, or come back to life by bringing your attention again to the here and now; mindlessness.