When Thoughts Arise, Part II
In a couple of posts and linked articles we've discussed or read about labelling or naming and counting breaths as things to do when our minds are brimming with thoughts during meditation practice. Earlier in the week, I posed a question asked by a student in Cheri Huber's book Nothing Happens Next. The question was:
I can't clear my mind. What should I do?
As for me, I've had several different thoughts on this over time.
Initially, I was on the lookout for strategies. Is there some magical mudra that will take the thoughts away? Maybe there's a certain set of instructions by a certain teacher that is the key. Maybe I'm not focusing enough on the breath. When I started to read about Insight Meditation, I thought perhaps that's the key... by naming my thoughts I can subdue and erase them.
In reading this question I noticed that I often use the labeling technique as a means to attempt to clear my mind... that I'm often trying to go beyond awareness (Oh, I'm thinking right now) to a fix (Well thoughts, take that!). I've carried this perception that if I can't sit without thinking for some period of time, my practice is somehow broken or I'm doing it wrong. Cheri's response suggests otherwise:
Don't even try. Once again, the mind that wants to clear the mind is cluttering the mind. We don't know what the mind is, how it works, or who wants to clear it. There's so much fascinating stuff to experience between clutter mind and clear mind. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you want to take short cuts. Finding out who you are will be the most wonderful adventure you'll ever go on—don't miss any of it.
It seems to me that there is a thin line between noticing and labelling and trying to control. The noticing and labelling is awareness practice, while the trying to control goes beyond awareness into judgment and response.
Hmmm... Something to consider.