Missing out on life by playing little vignettes on the stage of the mind
The constant distraction of thought offers much to investigate… if, of course, you can recognize when you’ve been captured by thought. Upon further review, there is little to distinguish these distracting thoughts from the narratives you form in your mind while reading a novel. When meditating next time, dive into the thought that was so absorbing.
First, where was this vignette played out? Did it hide in the plain sight of the scene you are used to looking at or, like reading, did it exist somehow in between your eyes and your mind’s eye? Who were the characters? Did you see them clearly? Or hear them talk? Did they use your voice? Could you distinguish numerous voices? How?
What did this mental short film make you feel? Were you modeling the future, trying to plan? Did you recall an argument or poignant moment from your past? Did this planning or memory leave behind a motivating feeling?
Finally, how did the capture work? Were you mostly aware and present one moment and the next—nothing—or did you gradually slip? Was the thought somehow more impactful than what you were doing or was it drivel you somehow were attracted to anyway?
Of course, small and sub-cognitive thoughts are common to everyone, taking away their ability to capture our awareness takes practice and paradoxically a study of their nature. For me, the content of my small thoughts are most often unimportant, but their capture of my attention can be nearly complete and come without warning. They seem to (weirdly…) pull me down and to the right. In my mind’s eye, I have to pull up and out of a small thought and wonder how something so mundane could replace oneness-with-loving-awareness?
Practice is one answer. I’ve had a lot more time just being with what is—headless, boundless, ever-changing awareness. I still plan and model the future so I can get ahead at work and to improve my relationship with my dynamic partner, but my mind takes a mile for planning when I want to inch along aware of, but not limited by, cognition.
Next time, think about that mundane thought, not with judgement (another thought trap!), but with the interest and investigation of Sherlock Holmes, so you see it sneaking around next time, and can watch it unravel before it distracts you.