This Nomadic Life – Observe the mind.


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From Don: As I began to move through my day the mind was actively engaged in trying to persuade me that my life is going all to hell and that all I can look forward to is worsening health and a bleak future. Suddenly these words came clearly:

“Observe the mind. Observe the mind.”

The voice of the speaker was familiar but I couldn’t quite place it: Eckhart, Adyashanti or some other wise teacher, I couldn’t tell, just that it sounded like a male voice rather than a female one. That voice helped me to remember that the mind is always trying to gain ascendency over, to feel like it is better, stronger and wiser than any other voice or any other influence on my behavior and my mood. Meditating on these words that came unbidden I remembered that the mind is a trickster, a fraudulent creation: vapour trying to appear solid. The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. I don’t remember who said that but it rings true for me. The mind can be very helpful as a secretary, reminding me of what I need to do and when I need to do it. But when it gains ascendancy and takes charge of my life, my actions, and the way I feel, then it becomes a dictator. It becomes a menace to good order and decent behaviour, because it’s whole raison d’être is to feel superior, and it does that by doing it’s best to make me feel inferior so that I end up feeling that I need it’s assistance. Let me add that without the mind’s attempts at sovereignty life manages to live itself without difficulty, and without distress or fear or any of the so-called negative emotions interfering. When the mind gets into the game of trying to control my behaviour is when things can turn to shit. Having said all that, it still doesn’t quite capture what I’m trying to express about the mind and it’s devious ways.

“Observe the mind.”

Watch it in action. It’s goal is always the same: to try to make the me feel inferior and therefore in need of assistance from the all-knowing, all powerful mind. It achieves its purpose by creating worries and fears. Problems only arise when I believe the mind is who I am, which, in my case, is almost all the time.

“Observe the mind.”

That’s the key to all this. The mind is a creation. Does it have any existence separate from the human brain? I suspect not. So how does an individual prevent the mind from dominating the inner reality and external behaviour? By observing the mind and not believing its tales of gloom, doom and disaster. The more one observes the mind’s activity the less likely one is to be deceived into believing the stories it tells.

“Observe the mind.”

I’m still having symptoms of a viral infection, and I can feel the mind wanting to make this a big deal and pull me down into a hole about my health, about what we are doing here in Cyprus, about what are we doing with our lives, about our finances, about anything and everything that can possibly cause me to feel less than happy and grateful for this marvelous present moment that’s filled with sunshine and warmth, and excellent accommodation, and good food and a loving wife.

“Observe the mind.”

I remember hearing Adyashanti quoting what one of his Zen teachers had said to him: “If you go to war with the mind you’ll be at war forever.” Adya went on to say that you couldn’t outthink the mind; you can only become increasingly aware of its activity, and stop believing what it is telling you. The mind in it’s own way is like the Devil: a persuasive voice in the head that seeks to keep you in thrall to its lies. The way out is the way through: not by trying to stop the thoughts but by hearing them, listening with discernment, and refusing to believe the lies contained within them.

“Observe the mind.”

Give thanks: I need to remember to keep giving thanks for all we have been given, particularly for what we have received and are continuing to receive since we made the decision to sell our home and go travelling. So many miracles, such a cornucopia of riches showering down upon us everywhere we go. I find myself from time to time having a lack of trust in The Mystery, and this certainly does not honour what we have been receiving on an ongoing basis since we became nomadic. So time to give my head a big shake and continue to acknowledge the gifts and opportunities we have received.

“Observe the mind.”

There’s really no end to this, to the need for awareness of the messages from the mind. The mind will continue to do what it does, and trying to stop the thoughts as they arise is counterproductive. The best that I can do is as follows:

“Observe the mind.”

Not feeling very good physically, but I’m still able to be aware of the mind’s attempts to have me go into a place of despair about my current health problems: my eyes feel tired and foggy, and my energy is quite depleted. Awareness allows me to just let things be as they are without buying into the mind’s story of despair.

“Observe the mind.”

Photo of the day: street art, Buenos Aires, Argentina


© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – not just a travel blog, 2010-2014.


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