Your mind: Your Greatest Friend and greatest enemy

Who is your enemy? Mind is your enemy. No one can harm you more than your own mind untamed. And who is your friend? Mind is your friend. No one can help you more than your own mind, wisely trained—not even your own mother and father. —Buddha

One of the things that would improve my experience of bars and restaurants, would be to not have the television relentlessly blaring away. Just the other day I found myself becoming irritated by some stupid program which seemed to consist of weirdly plastic people gossiping, criticising and being horrible to each other; at other times it has been telesales  the voice of the presenter full of  breathless excitement about how some crappy over-priced piece of crap that you didn’t know existed will change your life; or a re-run. Then we have the news fearful catastrophic reporting about how we are all fucked.  

I thought how like the mind this is: a permanent intrusive noise that you cannot switch off. Content is mostly lies, boasting, people obsessed with themselves and their opinions; in other words their ego. Just like the protagonists on the TV, the mind is smugly full of its own importance. (We forget that the rational mind is the servant not the master). Your mental channel might consist of reruns of your last love affair or of a conversation you had with your boss, or anxiety and shame about some problem, or anger at being treated poorly by someone in your distant past. Just like the bar TV, it’s difficult to change the channel. The whole spectacle/procession just keeps repeating and repeating without resolution. It can feel like a form of madness—have you noticed?

Your thoughts sometimes speak with the tone and words of your parents, like a crushing, repeating monologue. The needy voice of the abandoned child is there also. Sometimes the ambitious over-achiever. From time to time, there is also wisdom and kind loving words.  Most of the time your thoughts are like a bureaucracy that continues to perpetuate itself even when the need for it has been outgrown, even when it has actually become unpleasant, restrictive and possibly dangerous to you.

Ok, you’re thinking, “I know all that, but what can I do about it? I mean the thoughts that produce anxiety, fear or anger are impossible to control!”

With mindful meditation we come to experience our thoughts and thus many of our beliefs as simply imagination and quite often fallacious. Meditation means that we change our relationship with our thoughts and thus our feelings. As we observe them with mindful awareness we see their ephemeral nature, how they randomly arise and exist a short time then disappear. We experience that just because you have a thought it does not mean that you have to believe it – much less act on it.

Meditating, you rest in in mindful awareness of the present. You open to the experience of a timeless presence which is beyond the realm of thought. It is in this space that real healing takes place. As you continue, you come to realize and experience yourself not as a limited ego pulled this way and that but instead who you really are: the timeless limitless awareness behind all thought.

So stop making excuses and practice.

Your mind:  Your Greatest Friend and greatest enemy

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