The Mind

Aug 01, 2013

By Esther Veltheim

The first time I read Ramesh's words they struck me like a sledge- hammer. Immediately I knew that he was right. It isn't that I had not experienced stressful thoughts before. It had just never occurred to me that ALL tension is born of thoughts.
Meditation had always been something I practiced in spurts. I would be filled with Bhakti and for weeks do intense meditations and rituals. I would experience great benefit and calming of the mind. Then I would go a month or so with nothing, but the benefits would seem to carry over. I didn't relate to meditation as a daily practice to calm the mind. When I tried to implement that it felt contrived. And yet, when I came across Ramesh's words there rose up in me an urgency to understand why thoughts persist and to understand the nature of mind. In and of itself this obsession became a form of meditation that engaged my focus almost every waking moment.
I began exploring words and connotations. I explored how glibly I blamed externals, including my own mind, on a continuous basis. Even if I called my attitude 'praise', essentially, the thought habit was to scapegoat externals for all of my life almost every moment of the day. Everything "out there" was responsible for my experience of it. Clearly, that made no sense at all!
"Thoughts are the tension." As soon as I read those words I began to realize that it was imperative I start looking at my mind in a totally different way.
No matter how I explored the workings of the mind, I repeatedly came full circle. The point of departure was, invariably, a guess and I would always end up with another guess. I really couldn't find any single thought that indicated absolute certainty.
What I did discover was an increasing number of questions. With the stream of questions came the need to refine them because, clearly, there were no absolute answers. All I could do was discover increasingly refined questions...simpler questions, which gave birth to even more refined ones. And soon, instead of a circle of guessing, the circle became more one of questioning. And, for periods, the tension began to subside in my body and in my mind.
Now it might seem very obvious to you that the mind cannot grasp any absolutes. That was obvious to me too before I even began my explorations. For this reason I realized that I needed to find ways of taking my intellectual understandings deeper. So I began to invent exercises for myself. Maybe you have discovered this one for yourself already. If not, don't guess or assume the outcome, for to do so would be the antithesis of the exercise. Just try it for yourself.
The following exercise will be somewhat demanding. It will require tremendous attention and alertness towards your thoughts, words and actions...and a strong dose of self-honesty.
This exercise requires a pen and pocket notepad. Preferably avoid using a mechanical device for this.
The duration of this exercise is an entire day, beginning when you wake up to when you go to bed. Using a symbol of your choosing, note down every single time you make an assumption.
Each time you notice an assumption turn your focus towards you're feelings and the sensations that are happening in your body.
At the end of the day tally your symbols and, in your notepad, write down your experience of the day. Next morning, read through your account and see if there is anything you can add.

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