Reading about meditation, the description talked of clearing your mind of all thought. “Thoughts are bound to try to creep into your consciousness. Concentrate…think not-thinking“.
It sounds like double-speak, but the next time I tried to relax and clear my head through a semi-meditation routine, I tried this. It’s hard to describe, I suppose it’s really occupying your mind with the present, surface thought. Know what? It worked!
For me, the racing mind is thinking ahead constantly. To-do lists at work, to-do lists at home, places to be, the clock to watch, stuff to pick up from the store, bills to be paid, purchases to be planned, thinking and planning future activities… this may seem like a run-on sentence, but that’s what gets buzzing in my head. I suppose it is a run-on sentence, or a run-on paragraph, or maybe a run-on one-sided conversation, but sometimes it seems like it just keeps getting longer and faster, and runs in circles.
I tend to have notes everywhere. Lists, note pads, reminders. Reminders about notes to remind me to read the lists that tell me to see the notes and review the lists… honestly, it’s bedlam sometimes. It occurred to me that if I’m making all these notes, then I should just rely on them and not keep spinning them around in my head. It gets worse trying to keep mental track of them because then I re-hash and repeat, and still suspect (or worry) that there’s something I’ve forgotten.
So I tried to clear my mind while on a long stretch of highway. There really was nothing to be done until the destination was reached, so perhaps quelling the list-reading voices would be relaxing. Just as the sage said, thoughts tried to creep into my consciousness. Actually, I think that’s the definition of consciousness. So I tried to think about not-thinking. Of course it’s a bit like counting sheep to fall asleep. It’s not that you relax and clear your mind as much as you hypnotize yourself with the monotony! I thought “Think not-thinking. Think not-thinking.” and it worked! Every now and then a new & foreign thought would try to walk in, and I’d repeat my “mantra”.
Maybe this will work for you. Maybe you can simply think no thoughts and still be awake. I don’t know how that’s possible, but good for you! Maybe the “think not-thinking” is too far out for you. For relaxation purposes, which seems like a basic goal and benefit of meditation, perhaps you can visualize a single thing or event. The idea is to crowd out worrisome thoughts, like those described earlier, to-do lists and money woes.
It’s not escapism or shirking your duties or responsibilities unless you do it all day every day, or at least the majority of the time you’re awake!
It can be very relaxing, and does help to “clear the mind”. When your non-thinking session ends, all the same lists and worries are still there for you, so don’t worry, you haven’t forgotten important (or unimportant) things, nor been short-changed on your suffering and high blood pressure!
For me, it breaks the chain of think-worry-do-think-fix-work-do-worry-think. After all, in this real world we need to navigate- without the advantage of being in a quiet and solemn temple in Tibet- we’ll need to think, act, plan, even worry.
When you want a cup of tea, you put the water on to boil, and when the kettle whistles, you shut off the heat. Thinking constantly, especially true worries, is like leaving the heat on under the kettle all the time. The water can’t get any hotter, and if you’re not ready to use it, all that energy will simply evaporate the water.
Don’t let all that unnecessary energy of ruminating thoughts cloud your mind with useless steam— until you’re out of water.
Be at peace.