The brain craves novelty
When we’re not getting it
during mundane repetitive everyday tasks
(cleaning up, driving, getting dressed, making school lunches)
We tune out
Mind goes on screen saver ... into a world of its own.
And this is where the trouble begins.
In screen-saver mode
Another aspect of our mind takes over:
We go over our stories about things, about life
Often repeating an episode for the trillionth time
This is the default setting of the brain. Science calls it “narrative mode”.
Key point: we don’t know we’re doing it.
It happens in unawareness, at a subterranean level
(I drive 24 km only to ask on arrival: how did I get here? And what the heck was I thinking about all the way?)
It wouldn’t matter if this mind-streaming rumination happened only occasionally
It wouldn’t matter if my mind (everyone’s mind) had not a negativity bias:
an evolutionary tilt
towards seeking problems
and sniffing out danger, mainly to do with myself, lil’ ol me ….
“what I like/don’t like; want/ don’t want/
how I fit in/ don’t fit in/ measure up
how do I get what I want? not get what I don’t want?
who is holding me back?”
Wouldn’t matter so much if we did the mindless ruminating thing only occasionally.
But the issue is: the thoughts we don’t see are the thoughts that control us.
Mindfulness means courageously pulling back the veil, non-judgementally.
Mindfulness is befriending, welcoming, opening to the lurking background thoughts.
With kindness and curiosity.
Mindfulness is joyfully appreciating that, ironic as it is, seeing into and embracing the chaotic (and at times intense) content of the ruminating mind is first step to freeing us of its hold.
copyright Shakti Burke
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