Clearing Thoughts

Imagine for a moment that your mind is like an overgrown garden.  Weeds, tree seedlings, edible plants are all mixed together this this former lush garden.  All of the plants combined in a kind of crazy dance of vines and branches, twigs, and leaves, cluttering the once established garden, blocking any view of the fertile ground that once harbored those edible plants.

That overgrown garden is my mind; grown over with old and new thoughts, weeds of various sizes and shapes, roots too thought that go deeply into the fertile soil of my ego-mind.  As I sit on my meditation cushion or chair and try to rest in that space of calm abiding my thoughts, those weeds in the garden, take hold of my mind.  Their twisted, snarled branches of thought and emotion perfectly intertwined with my mind, almost indistinguishable from the calm abiding I’m trying to cultivate.

overgrown-garden.jpg
Trapped in my own mind.

 

It takes me a few minutes and soon I see the problem.  One particular thought keeps coming into my mind; some negative action or emotion I experienced ages ago, capturing my attention and pulling my mind in that direction.  I try hard to cut to the root of that thought and find the source so that I can clear the space….to, in fact create spaciousness.  I cut, pull, dig into the rich soil of ego mind, trying to remove the thought at its root and remove it from my mind.  It works….for a while; then a few days later, the thought is back, the root remains and my mind is, again, overgrown with the weed from that root…disturbing my calm abiding and sending my mind for the weed-wacker…the tool that will finally and completely end the thought.

What I realize, of course, is that I cannot remove that thought, that weed, from my mind because the lived experience holds that thought in memory and I’m stuck with it.  I have to find another method for dealing with those thoughts, those weeds in my garden of mind.

What if I ignore them, I ask.  I ignore them…and for a while they go away.  Then, at some point, the thoughts are triggered again, rising as strongly as ever, present in mind.  I try again to cut them out…only to again fail at my task.  I feel, literally, trapped by my thoughts.

Then I come upon another method; focusing on another thought.  It works! I can focus on something else and that thought slowly disappears.  I’m free, I think, from that horrible thought.  I look at the sunset, mountains, trees blowing in the wind, a full moon and think, finally I have an object, a thought, I can attach to and ignore/end the negative thought and emotion! Woot!

Of course, you know what happens.  I get sick, illness overtakes me, and the negative thoughts and emotions descend on me with full force.  Here I am again, trapped.  I HAVE to find another way.

Can I find another object, one more permanent?  OR, or, is there a method for ending my attachment to those thoughts?

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