My late mother-in-law of my late wife used to have a habit when we took her for rides in the car. She would say out loud every sign passed on the road no matter how inane. On and on her words recited yield, caution, deer crossing, stop, dead end, detour and so on.
I want my mind to stop for a while and take a rest. I hear constant commentary about everything. Some days I can ignore and other days I am front row center listening to every thought. I believe it’s my ego of my inner child, my teenager, my adult, watching, listening, worrying, procrastinating, planning, reacting, judging. It’s a skill I’m learning to sort out what’s useful and what’s not. I used to believe the goal was to shut it down but truth told I need my ego to work with my heart so we function wholly. A merging of sorts honoring all of me.
The concept of managing my thoughts was a gift I received from Dr. Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It is a life-long job sorting out what’s useful and what is not in the ongoing cacophony. Some days I’m better than others. Other days, I am exhausted because I can’t stop listening.
Sarah Wilson wrote a book entitled First We Make the Beast Beautiful, a new story about anxiety. Within the first few pages she writes of a conversation with the Dalai Lama. She asked him how he gets his mind to shut up. I quote -
‘There’s no use,’ he tells me. ‘Silly! Impossible to achieve! If you can do it, great. If not, big waste of time.’”
“But surely you can do it, I say."
”’Noooo. If I sit in a cave for a year on mountain, then maybe I do it. But no guarantee.’ He waves his hand. ‘Anyway, I don’t have time.’ He has better things to do, he tells me. Like teaching altruism to massive crowds around the world.”
My lifelong job is to cultivate peace of mind by managing my inner chatter. I believe I get better in time and choose not to buy in to the noisy setbacks. One step forward two steps back. I am headed in the right direction. Awareness is the key.
And what about this boulder,
knocked off the moutaintop and
tumbled down a thousand years ago
to lodge against the streambank,
does it waste itself with worry
about how things are going
to turn out? Does the current
slicing around it stop itself mid-
stream because it can’t get past
all it’s left behind back at
the source or up in the clouds
where its waters first fell
to earth? And these trees,
would they double over and
clutch themselves or lash out
furiously if they were to discover
what the other trees really
thought of them? Would the wind
reascend into the sky forever,
like an in-drawn breath,
if it knew it was fated simply
to sweep the earth of windlessness,
to touch everything and keep
nothing and be beheld by no one?
I found the song “I Whistle a Happy Tune” helps me feel less afraid. I was thinking of the power of music. I’m in a women’s choir and for the two hours of our concerts, I am happy the entire time; I’m in a cloud almost. When I used to call my mother and tell her about my troubles and disappointments, she would say to me to pray ‘get thee behind me, Satan.’ I don’t like that. So now, I imagine a big beautiful piece of satin cloth and I wrap my troubles in it and I say, ‘get thee behind me, satin.’ This mispronunciation of Satan works for me.
I just want to speak to the overloading clutter that we are all dealing with in these times. I want to express my appreciation for these postings so that we don’t have to keep it all in our minds as we look back.
It’s fun to create the blog posts. The new feature of the website lets us connect the current post to three older posts. Part of my pleasure now is to go back through all the meditation readings since March and try to find three that connect to the current theme. It’s a challenge every morning using keywords and titles, I wind up reading many. It’s a real joy every morning.
It’s interesting that even the Dalai Lama can’t get rid of the inner chatter. I tried during the meditation to free my mind, but I kept thinking about it. The awareness helps, to think and to bring my mind back. I’m working on it.
Thank you. I think I could get a PhD in rumination. Over and over. I think part of it is the anxiety, and the doubt, and unresolved issues. It’s comforting to hear others have the same problem, like the Dalai Lama. It’s so comforting. I’ve had trouble focusing my whole life. I remember reading a book years ago, You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?! It talked about trouble focusing, ADD, ADHD. I thought, wow, I don’t have to feel bad about myself that I can’t focus. As time went on, I learned more about one of the medical conditions I have. One of the side effects is trouble with focusing. My family member has the same issue along with other things. I wish the tables were turned. I also have a problem with a dryer. It’s a nuisance, but I’m grateful to have it. As it’s spinning around and the damp air coming, I try to picture good thoughts and let negative thoughts fly off and not stay. If I have to ruminate, it’s okay because cows do it too.
I love the reading with the examples you gave of the rock. When it falls, does it say why did this happen to me? Not taking it so personally. The rock fell, it’s just there. The river doesn’t say why did the rock fall in front of me? What did I do to deserve this? Don’t take things so personally. Move on and find another way around it. I love that, it lightened it up.
In the 1990s, I wrote an essay called ‘my little voice.’ I was spending a lot of time with my parents and I had a terrible relationship with them. I didn’t like being with them. I remember sitting in the backseat of the car, and suddenly, I could hear this little voice in my head saying everything that was wrong with my parents. It was a way to create a barrier between them and me; it was a way to protect myself from the pain of non-connection. When I worked on getting rid of that voice and letting it go, then I could start having a loving relationship with my parents. The awareness of that little voice made a big difference in my life. Awareness is the key to everything.
Thank you for spending time on yourself, honoring yourself, granting yourself grace, opening your compassion door, and watching and listening with your eyes and ears. I hope you all have a gentle day.