Meditation and Mental Talk
Thoughts are the biggest distraction in meditation – this statement can never be overemphasized. A meditator has to learn to continue his regular practice despite the almost non-stop broadcast from the mental radio. Success in meditation depends on how skillful you are in dealing with the incessant mental talking. Many people get so much annoyed by the ever lurking uninvited mental broadcast that they quit meditation and come to the conclusion that they are not fit for it.
The funny thing is that even if you are resting physically the mind does not stop or suspend its activity. It is always spinning and rolling in thoughts – and hopping from thought to thought almost without logic. Moments when the mind is not hopping thoughts are extremely rare and hence, we find them unusual. Researchers tell us that we think 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts every day – an astronomical figure by any measure. Needless to say that most of it is useless and irrelevant. If every thought consumes some energy, the amount of energy wasted daily is considerable; emotional thoughts consume the most. Regular meditators have relatively lesser number of thoughts crossing their mind and thus, they conserve a lot of energy.
Highly evolved yogis have considerable control on what enters their mind and can suspend their thinking process for considerable length of time. No wonder their dietary requirements are minimal. Of course, this is just the physical benefit; the larger advantages are mental, emotional and spiritual which are the real reasons why people take to meditation.
There is NO Escape from Thoughts
Thinking is what the mind does all the time. It does not know how to “not think”. Expecting that the mind would not think is like expecting a bird to not fly. This is a reality you have to accept; you can’t wish it away. This is the nature of the mind – accept this glaring reality. This acceptance is very important if you are really serious about advancing in meditation in the long run.
Not all mental chatter is aimless; the mental activities of daily living also make their presence felt whenever you sit for meditation. For instance, you are suddenly thinking “I must not forget that I have to call Mitch at three.” Or “Oh s—, I did not check mail.” Very often when such task related thoughts do not appear to stop, you abruptly conclude that you have a lot of work to do and must suspend meditation for the time being so that you can take care of these activities. This is how most people give us regular meditation much sooner than they ever wanted to.
The remedy lies in not identifying with the mental activities.
You are the witness, to whom things happen but who still remains a witness. Witnessing is the art of non-identification. Non-identification is all there is to meditation. It is the whole meditation. – Osho
The only way to tackle this problem is to train to ignore them for the hour of meditation. What you can do is to try not to encourage or fuel the thinking process. How would you do that? You will do it in the same manner when you are walking on a busy street – you ignore people walking around you (after being careful not to bump into them!). You deal with thoughts the same way you deal with some mad man talking – you ignore the non-sense. You know the consequences if you get involved in conversation with him. Right?
Another way to relate to such thoughts is to see them as “teasers”; the moment you respond to such teasers, your brain offers you further related thoughts. You’ll get mental images of Sam, phone, computer, browser, and so on. If you respond to any thought, it will only lead to more thoughts.
When you do not respond to a teaser thought and continue to focus on the meditation object, say respiration, your brain will let go of that teaser and try something else. You carry on with the practice and the teasers will become less and less frequent. That is meditation in a nutshell – non-identification and increasing the space between thoughts.
Therefore, stay-put for the whole meditation-hour and face the mental chatter without identifying with it. Remember, the only effort you make in meditation is to try non-identification. It will be tremendously helpful if always keep at the back of your mind that you will try to live in the present moment during meditation hour. When you have the “mental presence” or mindfulness, it discourages the usual mental talk. Therefore, learning mindfulness is extremely helpful for any meditator.
A Useful Tip: Play a brainwave audio in the background while meditating.