Meditation gives one space, space as in distance from mind. Naturally, the mind is always active. In meditation, one observes thoughts and emotions, and rather than react, one lets go, and distance is established; a sense of freedom sets in.
With time, this distance tends to increase, and due to this increase, we begin to disassociate from the mind, and in-turn find a peaceful state of freeing presence.
As a dedicated meditation practitioner, I get days where I feel my mind is nothing but a tool I use, and what a peaceful state. Other days I feel the mind creeps in, and I’m not as effective during the day, I'm agitated, and waste time pondering silly thoughts.
That said, I’ve been trying to understand why and how the mind always sneaks back in. And so I hope by continuing to write this piece, I'll come up with an answer that’ll help me establish a stronger state of presence, and hopefully offer you a little perspective.
The mind as I see it now is an addiction. We are conditioned to think we are our minds, but in reality we’re not, we’re the observer of the mind. To get absorbed by the mind, has become a natural state that we have to break away from.
The mind itself is collection of memories, from these accumulated memories, we’ve developed preferences, and one could say that these preferences form our personality. All our desires and fears are rooted in the personality.
To present this idea in a different way, we could say the mind is filled with data, and that data creates us. The mind is basically a hard disk and operating system. Now the question I’m asking myself is how come this operating system is operating itself ? Each operating system needs an operator.
Enter the Operator.
The operator, our essence, is actually awareness, consciousness, higher self, the Self, you can call it what you like. So how do we establish ourselves as consciousness rather than the illusory mind ? How do we create that distance between consciousness and mind ?
For starters, meditation is a good idea. In meditation, we begin to better understand the mechanics of mind, and once we understand these mechanics, the dismantling process becomes much easier.
One could define meditation in many different ways. I figure a healthy way to define meditation would be: life is a meditation, every waking moment can be a meditation.
With that in mind, it makes sense to say that a good time to start meditation would be as soon as we wake up. If one wakes up happy, or sad, it should not matter, and mind should not so easily dictate how we feel. So the first course of action as we wake up should be a form of self-inquiry. Meaning, as soon the eyes open, we check in, who just woke up ? Was it mind ? Or was it awareness ? Technically, awareness never slept, it’s always present, in all states of being, but for now, let's say awareness woke up, and lets be aware of awareness. Who woke up ? Awareness woke up. Or, who am I ? Awareness I am, and mind is within me.
From here, we could shift to a seated meditation, and either focus on the breath or a mantra. And when thoughts arise, we have the option of self-inquiry, so to whom do these thoughts arise ? Or we could practice just a simple letting go of thoughts, observe and let go, like a passing cloud. Whatever works for you. It's all about trial and error in meditation.
If this process becomes routine, I would assume our quality of life would improve because we’d spend more time in present awareness rather than playing mind games. And the mind really plays games, I read once that we could actually live without 75% of our thoughts as a big chunk of our thoughts are either memories which are unchangeable, or projections into a future that is unpredictable. Our perception of reality tends to differ from reality itself, and so we create and live within narratives that can be considered illusory. In other words, we trip out.
So what other techniques can we practice to ease this mind addiction ? Other than meditation and self-inquiry.
Maybe another good practice would be to practice presence using the senses. So as we wake up, we feel, look and listen to what is happening around us. We observe, and by observing, we invite the operator/observer to take center stage. We root ourselves in awareness, in presence. So we stay with sounds, sights, and other sense induced perceptions. Our senses root us in presence.
If we were to practice this method for a good five minutes every morning, I believe it’ll be a good start to the day. And maybe once we’re done, we can use the first method mentioned above, self-inquiry, to drop the mind back to its source, and why not continue with it all day ?
One last method would be, to simply know, that without this ever-present awareness, being would not exist, none of this would be happening. As some Yogi’s often say, you’re already there, awake and aware, otherwise you'd be asleep or dead, so abide as your are, as your essence, and not as mind.
To conclude, I'd suggest its best to use the mind rather than be used by the mind, and the best way to execute on this idea is to meditate. When it comes to meditation, its healthy to think of life as a meditation where literally every moment presents us with an opportunity to practice presence, and eventually find wholeness within this grounded presence.