“The mind is easily distracted; it loses its focus and becomes restless. If it is not directed positively, it’s power will be diffused.“Chin-Ning Chu
Most of us identify with our thinking mind. The stream of thinking has enormous power that can easily drag you along with it. Our thoughts always buzz around like a swarm of bees, some of them come uninvited and occupy our attention. Our mind continues to wander into unwanted thoughts whether meaningful or not.
The present is existential; yet the mind refuses to perceive that same and we keep getting into ruminating thoughts on past knowledge and future problems that make us unhappy, anxious and worried. Even though thinking, analysing and comparing is a natural activity of the mind, to think constantly, going from one thought to another makes us restless and trying to control our thoughts is like control the wind, the more we try, the more restless we become.
Our mind holds onto so many thoughts and we seldom recognise restlessness nature as and when it arises. When we don’t recognise for what it is, it tends to overpower your normal functioning, controls your mind and engages you into unhelpful and unhealthy ways of behaviour. Each arising thought deviates from the previous thought and the moment you react to such thoughts objectively, false views and emotions manifest trapping in a repetitive cycle of delusions and ignorance.
Restlessness is the condition of thinking mind
The constant motion of our thoughts is the foundation of mind. This is the reason we experience thoughts that come and go incessantly all the time. Even though mind cannot perceive the boundaries as a whole like our senses do, it can distinguish one thought from another. When there are numerous thoughts rising one after the other, it becomes difficult to focus on any individual thought. Holding on to too many thoughts causes quite a overwhelm that results in attention fatigue. And we perceive the mind as being restless. Since movement from one thought to another is the basis for mind to exist, achieving stillness or controlling your thoughts becomes difficult. The more you try to control your thoughts, the more you get dragged into repetitive cycle of thinking.
Moving beyond the thinking mind
Constant thinking means getting imprisoned within the confines of our own thoughts, being taken over by the whims of the mind. Since events, situations or words you hear have an affect on the mind and produce thoughts in accordance with them, you never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalised sense of self. Then this “little-me” tends to run your life. As a result, we experience lack of control, lack of freedom and attention. In other words, we cannot experience love, lasting peace and joy except moving beyond thinking mind.
Unconditional dimension of thinking mind
Every thought pretends that it matters much and wants to draw your attention in completely. In our desire to know, understand and control, we tend to interpret every view point for truth and get trapped compulsive thinking. This automatic process of conditional thinking prevents you from focusing on here and now or to experience new things. In a way, you lack freedom when you identify yourself with your thinking mind and let your mind rule your life. But, just as restlessness is the natural conditioning of our mind, there is also a dimension of unconditioned consciousness that is far more natural and deeper than our thoughts which is the true essence of who we are. Finding this dimension frees us from confinement of our incessant thinking.
The path to freedom
Our mind usually worries about thoughts it’s convinced are true but, most of that isn’t. It is important to remember that you need not believe everything you think. Our mind in its desire to know, understand and control, mistakes opinions and view points for truth. When you can recognise, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through your mind as simply thoughts, you can let go of it’s control. Freedom arises when you no longer identify with your mind and consciously step out of the compulsive thinking nature of mind.
Letting go of inessential and becoming okay with not knowing dissolves the barriers created by the thoughts. This doesn’t mean not to think anymore, to resist or stop your thoughts, but is to simply not to be completely identified with every thought that arises. If you can recognise the thoughts as simply thoughts, and become aware of your own mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, you will be able to step out of the incessant flow of your thoughts. Once you are aware and let go of your thoughts, you move from your own limited concept of your perceived self into the unconditional inner peace of your mind.
- Focus your attention on what you are doing, instead of following or getting dragged by every thought that captures your attention. Returning your focus to the present will help you accept and let go of what you can’t control. Knowing what you can and can’t brings inner peace.
- Aimlessness leads to drifting of thoughts. Without a purpose, you fall prey to worries, fears, troubles and all of which lead to restlessness. Finding your inner purpose helps you create right conditions to overcome doubt, fear or worry.
- Writing three to five things that you are grateful helps you develop an appreciative view point. Cultivating gratefulness breaks the realms of limitations of your thinking mind and its confinement.
- Acknowledge unknowingness and trust that each action you take will open a door to new experiences. When you find your mind wandering, pay attention to your breathing and accept what is. When you allow what is true, you create space in your mind for calmness.
- Practice letting go of thoughts about what’s not here and now. When you stop striving for something more or a future benefit, you are better focused towards what you are doing now. This will put you out of the restlessness in to a stress free zone of no-worries and no-fears attitude.
- It is in meditative awareness that we go beyond perceived self. Meditating on your breathing can help you feel calm, grounded in to your awareness. Being mindful of your breathing patterns help you stay balanced and enhances your ability to sense and respond to your thoughts.
When you are identified with thinking mind, you get restless very easily. Even though the restless activity of our mind is natural, it is within our reach to calm the restless and incessant thinking mind and to get in touch with our inner peace. Bringing your thoughts in to conscious awareness and accepting what is through mindfulness slows down the external perception of the mind, thereby bringing more balance into your life. When your thinking is rooted in conscious awareness, restlessness slows down and you become more attentive of what is in front of you.