Jumble of Thoughts

My sister meditates regularly and her thoughts and questions this morning prompted me to write this post. She relayed to me a Tim Ferriss podcast she was going to listen to about being overwhelmed by information and how to know what to take in and what not to and why.

She said that with returning to a more regular meditation practice recently she has practised the, ‘gone’ meditation and loving kindness. There is so much good information coming to her around meditation that she said she has been sitting to meditate with a jumble of thoughts over what to choose to meditate on.

She asked, “how do I know what makes sense for me and what to choose and how to choose it? How do I not be overwhelmed and over loaded? I know I can’t choose everything, but I want to.”

I was driving at the time I was listening to this (my sister lives on the other side of the world in California and we Vox [walkie talkie messaging] every morning) and so I pondered on it for a while. Instead of voxing back my thoughts like I usually would, my sister’s thoughts and questions inspired me to put this into a blog – thank you Mel 🙂

It didn’t come to me until this evening that the answer is actually in the question (often the case). The ‘how’ (as in how do I know what to choose, what makes sense) is not of our concern, just the intention. My dad used to say to us, ‘yours is not to reason why, yours is just to do or die.’ He didn’t mean it literally, well at times perhaps he did, but apart from the ‘die’ bit of that saying, there is great truth in it. The what, where, why and how of things really isn’t our concern. It can be left for the more infinite power of the universe to take care of.

When you sit to meditate, although you may have a jumble of thoughts or several ideas about what you should or shouldn’t be meditating on, truly your overall intention is just to meditate, right?

So it doesn’t matter how or what you are meditating on. If you think about that, it allows a sense of freedom and relaxation in just simply sitting and being; allowing the flow of meditation to carry you on whatever journey it takes.

When we meditate, we connect on a level of energy with universal energy; the infinite power of the universe, god or whatever you like to view that as. It is this connection that really enables the ‘hows’ of everything to be taken care of.

Remember, to meditate is to focus your attention fully upon something. At times when I meditate, I have a clear intention. One could argue that this negates the act of meditating, but at times I seek solutions or answers and I am clear on that. I don’t have an expectation or an outcome, but I might know I am going to meditate on ‘gone’ or something I am looking for guidance in. If answers come (they always do at some point) in the meditation, great, but if they don’t then that’s great too. I usually find that my path to this decision also comes from within and unless I feel that intention clearly, I let it go. I remind myself as the Buddha said, in the absence of grasping, one is set free.

Often times, however, I don’t have an intention. I just trust that what comes is meant to be. If that is a jumble of thoughts, where I am actually thinking about what to choose and what to focus my meditation on, then I will simply allow that, and I keep returning my focus to the breath. In doing this the thoughts dissipate.

Meditation creates space and separates the jumble of thoughts. Think about your mind being a garden cluttered with autumn leaves (thoughts). Meditation is like the wind, swirling gently between the pile of leaves and blowing them, until they scatter further apart and finally blow away. Truly clearing your mind.

When you realise you are where you are meant to be, what is right for you at the time will come. Meditation brings clarity of mind and a calm approach to thinking; over time thoughts don’t seem to come as fast as they used to and they seem far less jumbled. It isn’t so much that your thinking has slowed down, more that the quality of  your thoughts has accelerated. Thoughts become sharper and focused, more relevant.

There is no wrong or right way to meditate and every day is different. The jumble of thoughts and wanting to focus on so many things to meditate on and bring good things into your life is truly a beautiful thing. Simply notice that during your meditation, returning your focus to the breath. Allow the meditation practice of doing that, unravel the jumble. If it doesn’t feel clearer during that meditation, it will later that day, or during the next one, or the next one. There is no rush, you are where you are meant to be. There is great peace in that. It is a consistent practice that will create space and clarity of mind.

If you find that your meditation is focusing on the racing jumble of thoughts rather than your breath, then that’s ok. You are focusing on something! If you follow this jumble of thoughts for a short time in your mind,  you will naturally settle back to your breath. Thinking is exhausting.

The breath is your centre,  your life force and power within. It is the gateway that connects you to higher levels of consciousness and universal energy. It simply requires your focus and practice…

Breathe in, breathe out.

Gone

Today I practised ‘gone’ in my mediation. I read about meditation masters who practice this.

Simple, yet powerful.

Gone is always something I have struggled with for most of my life. When I was 7, I got home from school one day to find that my older two brothers and sister had gone. I had no idea where they were or why they had left.

Growing up my family dynamics were complicated. At the time of course I was just a child and had two older brothers, an older sister and a younger brother.

The reality of the matter was, however, that when my dad met my mum he already had three children. One from a marriage that was for convenience (that he had entered  into to keep him from being put into prison) and his wife abandoned their baby (my eldest brother) when he was just 9 days old in the back of a van. And two children from another mother, who he didn’t marry. Unbeknown to me there was another mother and child in between that, but I didn’t know about her until I was 25, so she never really featured in our brother and sister clan.

The first child, my eldest brother, thought that the mother of the second two children (my older brother and sister) was his mother. He was never told otherwise and he didn’t learn of this until he was 15. Inevitably my dad separated from this second mother and my eldest brother, although remaining with her, spent most of his time with my dad, living at my dad’s sister’s house. He then met my mum and because he wasn’t a man to be reckoned with and extremely possessive, was granted custody of the other two children. All three children lived with my mum and dad for the three years before I was born, which at that time would have made them 5, 7 and 9. So for 7 years we lived as brothers and sisters.

If you think about the events leading up to my birth, there was a lot of gone featured for my brothers and sisters too. Almost like something we all shared, even before I was born.

Back to the day I got home from school. There was never an explanation as to where they had gone and my memory was of sitting on our wooden stairs in the house with my younger brother crying and hugging each other. We were totally bewildered. Later on I discovered that they had gone to live with the second mother again. This came from the experience of going to see them there, not from being told or explained to about what or why this had happened. From that point on, all five of us would come and go. There were another two children who arrived later, but by that point gone wasn’t significant for them. Just something that seemed to exist for the five of us.

Gone has figured heavily in my life, because from that day forward, I actually engineered things to go out of my life before I became attached to them. At the time I was of course blissfully unaware of this dysfunction. This manifested itself into everything from friendships to school work and later to relationships and my career. Coupled with other behaviour such as rushing through everything at breakneck speed… born from living with an abusive father and living in fear of the unknown and what would happen next, being bad and so on, this just became my chaotic and destructive normal. Apart from the strong bonds to my brothers and sisters, especially my younger brother who had remained with me when the other three had gone, nothing stuck and I ended everything, usually abruptly only to then start something else before finishing it. Gone, gone, gone.

The pace at which this gone occurred became more frantic the older I became. Although now many, many (I could say many several more times but you get the gist) years later I have a good understanding of all of this situation and have forgiven, accepted and moved beyond the emotional trauma of it all, I notice at times, I am still somewhat drawn to gone.

You will sense my elation then that I learnt in meditation, gone is actually synonymous with joy and meditating on, ‘gone’ brings joy. It’s uplifting to me that the idea of ‘gone’, which previously dominated my life to such a debilitating degree, now brings joy.

Highlighting Buddhist philosophy, meditating on, ‘gone’ reflects the impermanence of life and of the suffering attachment to things brings. Everything ends and an acceptance of this brings peace, which in turn breeds joy.

To meditation on ‘gone’, simply sit and notice the end of the out breath, where the breath is gone and the point at which it has gone. Notice that moment. I realised there is gone at the end of the in breath too, for a tiny moment as your breath whispers in and up, as though floating in your meditation. There is a tiny moment of gone, before the exhale returns your breath out again. Notice the gone.

This spills into your mindfulness practice during the day. Notice the moments of gone in every day life. The sound of the wind stopping, a bird you are watching flying from a tree. Bigger things in your life like your loved ones, material things such as your home, car or money, nothing is permanent – everything ends and is gone at some point. There is something magical about gone – it signifies the end, but that marks a beginning. Impermanence as much as it brings suffering can bring joy and meditating on, ‘gone’ brings an acceptance of this and sheds a whole new light on your life…try it.

 

 

[this photo was taken in the late seventies of me and my closest brother; two peas in a pod…and the car is a Vauxhall Viva!]