Twelfth Post – Series ‘Reloading Mental Health’ – December 2020
Research says that human mind comes up with sixty thousand thoughts each day. Our mind is a chatterbox that chatters non-stop within. It is capable of picking up random thoughts and linking them to create a chain of thoughts. One thought triggers the next and creates an inter-connected chain of internal script. Ayurveda says that the mind is a field of thoughts and the body is a field of molecules. Field of thought always needs an inner or outer object of reference. Outer object means people, situations, desires, etc.; inner object means self-referral. When inward bound, the thoughts connect with inner silence, which reduces mind-chatter.
Let’s see how the mind chatters by creating links –
“Bob Ross’s voice is so soothing.”
“I love bob cuts.”
“My last haircut was in New York.”
“I am craving New York style pizza.”
“Should I order pizza for lunch?”
In the above mind-chatter, there are linking threads that randomly connect the thoughts. The purpose of meditation is to break these linking threads. Restricting the progression of thoughts can bring about a restful alertness.
What is Restful Alertness?
After conquering a wild boar in the jungle, our early ancestors were able to retire in a safe place, where they allowed their minds to become quiet and their bodies to relax. But while restoring their energy, they remained alert, ready to respond to the environment if necessary. There was a relaxing alertness they possessed while resting mentally and physically. Stopping mind-chatter leads to restful alertness.
How to stop mind-chatter and achieve restful alertness?
Meditation helps in slowing down the mind-chatter. With regular practice, we can eventually stop it. During meditation, the associating link between the thoughts is taken off and is replaced by a new object of attention. This new object of attention could be a mantra chant (sound meditation), one’s own breath (breathing-awareness meditation) or a visual symbol (imagery meditation). These replacements engage our attention and create a “gap” between the links of thoughts. This gives a fractional blankness to the mind, which creates a field of inner silence that is required for restful alertness. But these replacements (mantra/breath/image) lack the emotional connect, so it becomes difficult to stay for long in these gaps. With practice, as one learns to connect with the mantras, the gap between the links of thoughts increases. This gradual increase in gap slows down the linking of thoughts thus reducing mind-chatter. The mind begins to experience an inner silence that connects it with the cosmic intelligence and rejuvenates it.
Myths about Meditation –
A common myth states that meditation means ‘no-thoughts’ in mind. It is wrong to believe that mind should be absolutely quiet while meditating. Thoughts are the natural expression of a conscious mind, so they are meant to flow. They cannot be restricted or forcibly stopped. There is no other way but to accept the flow of thoughts while meditating. The key is to enter the gap (dissociating link) between the thoughts through meditation and try to stay there as long as easily possible. This is the way all modes of meditation (healing music, healing sound, healing touch) function and allow the access to inner silence.
Another myth states that meditation time means simply ‘doing nothing’. On the contrary, meditation is a process of doing the right thing to reduce mind-chatter. This ‘doing’ lays the foundation of much needed restful alertness in today’s fast-paced life. Meditation regulates and slows down the breathing. It relaxes the body and reduces mental anxiety. It slows down the oxygen consumption so the heart is required to pump less blood. This regulates the blood pressure and allows the mind and body to be calm and in restful alertness.