The Mental Theater

The Mental Theater

You are sitting in your room. There is no TV or music playing. You are alone with your thoughts. Just what thoughts are they though? If you observe your thoughts you will note a few things. First there are “environmental” thoughts which are those thoughts relating to your physical being. Thoughts regarding your reaction to your environment. You are hot, cold, thirst, hungry, horny, itchy etc. Then there are “passive” thoughts. These are the ones which constantly bubble up more or less spontaneously without any obvious direction on your part. They are often random and flow in a “free association” of one to the next e.g. my new outfit, the dance next saturday, Ellen will be there, Ellen went to Hawaii with us, it rained, I wonder if it will rain tomorrow etc. Then we have active thoughts. These are thoughts which we direct. We think about a specific subject, event or person or the activity we are engaged in at that moment.

These thoughts happen all at the same time. Never is your mind without a thought. The thoughts flow in a constant broadcast of inner monologue like a film that you cannot turn off. Now, to continue with this metaphor the film is projected onto a “screen” in your solar plexus. Every image on the screen creates some emotional response. It can be positive, negative or neutral but there will be a response. This goes on for every second you are awake from the second you open your eyes until the second you close them again at night.

So, you are barraged with a loud chatter of thought which in turn causes constantly shifting emotional states and it never ceases. Even when you want to focus on just one thing you can’t because of all of the restless chatter.

When you self observe, after a while you will be able to recognize the interplay between these thoughts and feelings. You can pinpoint what thoughts are giving rise to what feelings. You will begin to realize the repeating patterns of thought which lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Once you have recognized them it is a simple step to assert control over them.

๑ Samsaran ๑


facebookslug asked: I know this sounds silly, but how do you meditate? I know some what about it, but not a lot. I’m looking into the Buddhism religion and thats one of the main parts of it so I want to make sure I’m doing it correctly. c:

I know this sounds silly, but how do you meditate? I know some what about it, but not a lot. I’m looking into the Buddhism religion and thats one of the main parts of it so I want to make sure I’m doing it correctly. c:

Hey sis 🙂 It’s wonderful that you’re looking into these things.

Your question is similar to asking how to exercise. There are many different ways to exercise. The “correct” way isn’t the emphasis but rather the most effective and safe way. You don’t want to injure yourself while exercising and you don’t want to use your energy inefficiently.

This is also the way with meditation. A technique is given to the beginner so as to provide an efficient vehicle for attention and practice. While you cannot “injure” yourself through meditation, there are a good deal of obstacles that may arise and cause confusion within you. Fortunately the teachings of meditation and dharma are more available now than ever before and you can find solid insight and guidance for a beginner.

There are many different forms of meditation. The most simple forms are best for a daily practice while the more complex forms make for good augmentation and exploration. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the techniques and teachings. Some meditation schools emphasize awareness, emptiness, and being, while other schools emphasize energy, chakras, and channels.

My advice is to begin with a simple meditation practice, like sitting and resting your attention on the space between your eyebrows or on the feeling of your breath flowing. I have written a lot about meditation, which you can find on the meditation page of my blog or the meditation tag.

A beginner who sits for meditation may initially experience any of the following:

The mind’s voice constantly commenting on and adjusting the meditation technique, trying to “do” the meditation. Meditation is a process, not a state or activity in the conventional sense of the word. When you sit for meditation, it is already effecting you, even if that effect isn’t on a conscious level. Don’t get hung up on whether you are meditating the right way. Sit and be still. As obstacles arise, you meet them and grow as a result. Therefore your meditation evolves from experience and practice, not from policing technique.

An intense release of emotion. This can result in tears, fear, peace, joy, or anything really. Sometimes we don’t realize what we’ve been holding onto and suppressing. Those who are new to meditation may experience a wide array of vivid emotional experiences in the first few months.

Weird sensations. Feeling hot, cold, tingly, or experiencing an assortment of sensory phenomena is common. Don’t worry about it, just allow it to be however it is.

Restlessness and lack of focus. We typically conceive of focus as something added, as if your natural state is a wandering mind and you must force it to be still. This is not real focus. Real focus means not mentally leaving where you are. It is the restlessness that is added. Until you are still and at ease, you wont realize how much energy we waste with our compulsive mental activities. The mind calms down not through force but by relaxing and being attentive. In meditation, your attention may wander down trains of thought and that is okay. Don’t scold yourself. When you catch yourself being inattentive during the meditation, just come back to the focal point of the meditation, such as your breath.

Anyone can meditate. You do not need to be a buddhist, a yogi, or whatever. If you start meditating today, your research on buddhism will be more effective, as you will be able to feel out which particular teaching school is most relevant and helpful to where you are now.

A few Buddhist books I highly recommend are: Rebel Buddha by Ponlop Rinpoche, The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron, The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Trungpa Rinpoche, and Becoming Enlightened by the Dalai Lama.

Another book I think is quite excellent is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Namaste! Much love.


joyful abandon

dualistic mind

You can see how your dualistic mind functions in your daily life. Whenever you find something you like, you automatically start looking around to see if there’s anything better. There’s always conflict in your mind: “This is nice, but what about that?” The advertising industry is built on exploiting this universal human tendency and the world of material development has grown exponentially because one mind is always competing with another.

Lama Yeshe

from the book “The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind: Buddhism, Mind and Meditation”