The latest BIG thing is meditation. We are told the best thing for us is to get calm and relaxed and to focus on something (our breath, a sense, a mantra, what have you) and let thoughts come and go without engaging them.
Then when we are at work, we are told to focus on the task at hand and again told not to engage those thoughts that enter our minds which are not related to the task at hand.
It seems we are constantly being told to focus and not engage what’s on our mind. I have found though the one thing I want to do more than ever is to engage such thoughts. My mind often feels clouded. I just want to day-dream and wonder sometimes.
Focusing on the task at hand and meditation are both very necessary and useful, I wouldn’t doubt that, but perhaps contemplation deserves a place too – a time to sit and allow ourselves every opportunity to just engage and think about what ever pops up or about something that keeps bothering us. Perhaps a moments reflection of the thoughts that bug us would allow us to untangle them, understand them and, in this way, such a practice might bring a lot of value. I truly believe that if something keeps playing on our mind, it is an important message we are trying to communicate to ourselves and it is important to listen to such thoughts if we wish to feel happy and fulfilled. Moreover, engaging thoughts and ideas that come to us gives us the chance of developing them, which may be what allows for the next best invention or theory. If its not an appropriate time to do so, jotting down such thoughts for a time that is can prove useful. Or perhaps setting a side a time of day (or every couple of days) where you allow yourself the time to come up with all that may be bugging you – kinda like a psychology session with yourself – is what will work for you. I personally set aside 2 days a week where I go for a walk and engage what is on my mind/has been on my mind. I find the rhythmic quality of the walking very conducive to thought flow.
Thus, in conclusion:
The main benefit of meditation comes from its teachings of letting go of attachment to thoughts. The main benefit of focusing on a task at hand is the training of focus which is also immensely beneficial, something we are prone to loosing touch with in this time of too much information and distraction. Yet our problems might not only stem from over thinking but from under thinking or from “unthought thoughts” which might impart valuable information.
Contemplation allows us to think through thoughts and feelings and to really try to understand them and in so doing, give them some sort of order, allowing us clarity and insight.
The benefits accrued from practices of mediation and focus are also important here – it is useful not to get attached to achieving a clear analysis of our thoughts – our brains being incredibly complex, this can take a long time. But, at the least, we might get a little clearer. We can start to come to see the dominant thoughts and feelings we hold and what these might mean. It is also useful to be able to focus and stick with your contemplation practice, which is where the practice of focus can be invaluable.
So, basically, the moral of the story is its OK to engage thoughts that pop up. Don’t feel bad about this. Especially as we get better at it, the benefits could be immense! Just don’t get too caught up in those tantalising thoughts – remember the aims of mediation and focus too 😉
– a different perspective –