The Restless Mind - The Constantly Thinking Mind
By Remez Sasson
The natural tendency of the mind is to be restless. Thinking seems to be a continuous and ongoing activity. The restless mind lets thoughts come and go incessantly from morning till night. They give us no rest for a moment. Most of these thoughts are not exactly invited; they just come, occupy our attention for a while, and then disappear.
Our true essence can be likened to the sky, and our thoughts are the clouds. The clouds drift through the sky, hide it for a while and then disappear. They are not permanent. So are thoughts. Because of their incessant movement they hide our essence, our core, and then move away to make room for other thoughts.
Thoughts resemble the waves of the ocean, always in a state of motion, never standing still. These thoughts arise in our mind due to many reasons. There is a tendency on the part of the mind to analyze whatever it contacts. It likes to compare, to reason, and to ask questions. It constantly indulges in these activities.
Everyone's mind has a kind of a filter, which allows it to accept, let in certain thoughts, and reject others. This is the reason why some people occupy their minds with thoughts about a certain subject, while others don't even think about the same subject.
Why some people are attracted to football and others don't? Why some love and admire a certain singer and others don't? Why some people think incessantly about a certain subject, and others never think about it? It is all due to this inner filter.
This is an automatic unconscious filter. We never stop and say to certain thoughts 'come' and to others we say 'go away'. It is an automatic activity. This filter was built during the years. It was and is built constantly by the suggestions and words of people we meet, and as a consequence of our daily experiences.
Every event, happening or word has an affect on the mind, which produces thoughts accordingly. The mind is like a thought factory, working in shifts day and night, producing thoughts.
The mind also gets thoughts directly from the surrounding world. The space around us is full of thoughts, which we constantly pick, let pass through our minds, and then pick up new ones. It is like catching fish in the ocean, throwing them back into the water and then catching a new ones.
This activity of the restless mind occupies our attention all the time. Now our attention is on this thought and then on another one. We pay a lot of energy and attention to these passing thoughts. Most of them are not important. They just waste our time and energy.
This is enslavement. It is as if some outside power is always putting a thought in front of us to pay attention to. It is like a relentless boss constantly giving us a job to do. There is no real freedom. We enjoy freedom only when we are able to still the mind and choose our thoughts. There is freedom, when we are able to decide which thought to think and which one to reject. We live in freedom, when we are able to stop the incessant flow of thoughts.
Stopping the flow of thoughts may look infeasible, but constant training and exercising with concentration exercises and meditation, eventually lead to this condition. The mind is like an untamed animal. It can be taught self-discipline and obedience to a higher power. Concentration and meditation show us in a clear and practical manner that we, the inner true essence, are this controlling power. We are the bosses of our minds.