I’ve started a new practice of meditating — just five minutes in the morning. Then at various points during the day, when I’m walking home from work, for example, or during a short lull between serving patrons at the library, I might pause and for a few moments return my mind to my in-breath and out-breath.
I look at it as consciously giving my mind a rest. We all know how important it is to give our bodies proper rest. I think it is perhaps at least as important to give our minds a rest, too. I trust that allowing some fallow time will be healthy and maybe even fruitful. Who knows?
All books about meditation talk about how impossible it is to actually empty the mind for even five minutes without thoughts intruding. Zen masters call this “monkey mind.” Of course, I experience this too. When I notice a thought has once again caught my attention, I just acknowledge it and let it go, returning my focus to my breath.
I trust that detaching myself from my thoughts will help me to see how much I am in the thrall of autopilot mind. And over time, perhaps I will become more thoughtful/less habitual in my resulting speech and actions.
One of the insights I’ve already noted is how very few of my thoughts, if any, are original. Mostly, the thoughts that cross my mind are things I’ve already thought before, maybe even hundreds of times. I’m ready to move on to something fresh and new! How can we train or invite our minds to think more original thoughts?