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Rush Hour of your Mind

There is nothing outside of us that can drop us into fear as quickly as our very own mind. The fear of losing a loved one, a house, a job, stability – those things could happen, yes. But are they happening right now, in this very moment? Other than a few moments in your life where you could experience this loss as your reality, the amount of time spent in worry and anxiety about them far outweigh the event itself. We become contracted in fear and anxiety, holding our bodies close and tense. But the very same dire consequences we fear can awaken compassion instead of fear, expansion instead of contraction, and a loosening of our protective shells.


You may have heard our minds are like training a wild elephant or wild horse. I think in the modern world our minds could be likened to rush hour traffic. You think you’re going for a nice drive, but instead you become aware of the mass chaos that is actually your mind. You feel like you can’t control all these other drivers and they do stupid things you don’t understand. So, look up – into the sky. Is the sky clouded by the traffic? We have storms and smog and pollution, but is the sky polluted? If you keep going up,  where are you? Is the universe polluted? No, the universe has the space to hold this pollution.  Your mind is just like space. There is room to work with the atmosphere and the weather and the smog and the cars  and all the people in the cars.


You have been training in wild mind as Pema Chodron calls it. You have been trained in the skilled navigation of getting thru this traffic. Meditation is about training your mind in stepping back and not becoming another obnoxious driver on the road. If you’ve never trained in how to move in outer space, you can’t conceive of the possibility.


So what we do in meditation is to just look over this city and observe. There are lives and loses and gains here, but we are simply observing. This does not mean we’re detached- we have a curious sense of compassion for what goes on in this world. Many people have never visited this city of mind and would be heartened to feel the joy within it! But we never get caught up in the story. We always return to watching what’s happening in the present moment. We balance curious compassion with observation skills from the sky over the city mind.


Many people say “Well, I can’t meditate, my mind jumps all over the place”. What would you expect; thus far, that’s all you’ve trained in! That’s like saying “I can’t learn to play the guitar – every time I try it sounds horrible”. That’s why you’re learning. You’re training. You practice.


So meditation practice really is about learning what is really going on with your mind, moment by moment. It’s not about having nothing going on upstairs, it’s not about silence. It’s about observation and keeping a heart of curious compassion for all that occurs. It’s about not following the stories in your head to their emotional conclusion, it’s about noticing them and coming back to the present moment. Over and over again.

Overlooking Your City


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