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April 21, 2007 at 4:39 pm #138394JaxKeymaster
Releasing unwanted thoughts in meditation
When I first started on the Jedi path, one of my main concerns was how to meditate and clear my head. That’s one of the things you always hear about with meditation. “Just sit there and clear your head.” Well, I’m sure everyone has learned how difficult that can be. If we could just sit and clear our head, we wouldn’t need much meditative practice, now would we?
It wasn’t until 3 years into my path that I finally received the insight required to gain control of my mind. The Buddhists at my university offer classes where they bring up the local master from Houston and they address the basics of Buddhism, including meditation. I only went to one class, but it gave me all the insight I needed at that point in my life. I’ll do my best to pass that insight onto you so you may benefit as I did.
If you’re anything like me, sitting in meditation involved a slew of random thoughts, and one song that was stuck in there from who knows when! I would sit and try to let them go, tell them to leave, all sorts of things, but it never worked. Apparently I was going about it all wrong! By focusing on the thoughts, I kept them with me, no matter what I did. I put energy towards them, and anything we put energy towards we keep to us. So while I wanted to release them, what I was experiencing was these extraneous thoughts distracting me. I kept focusing on this distraction which kept the experience of distraction with me. However, what I wish to experience is focus, so that is what I need to put energy towards. The monk described it in this manner.
Say you’re holding a coffee cup in your hand. There’s nothing inherently wrong with holding a coffee cup, but you would rather hold the beautiful rock on the table. Now pretend that you don’t know how to put down something. I know it can be a bit of a stretch, but just pretend. After all, this is only an analogy.
Since you don’t know how to put down the cup, you try all sorts of things, but no matter what the cup stays in your hand. This is what I had tried for years, and many others I’m sure. But what if we did something else.
We already know how to pick things up, as evident by the cup in our hand. So instead of focusing on what we don’t want, the cup, let’s focus on what we do want, the rock. Focusing on the rock, we reach down and pick it up. Now you’re holding a rock in your hand. In order to do that, you had to release the cup in some way. It doesn’t even matter how, just that you did. This is how we release our thoughts.
When we meditate, there is something to focus on, usually breathing or counting. When we notice an extraneous thought, don’t focus on the thought. Instead, return our focus to the counting or breathing. Keep focusing, and before you know it the thought will have left your focus without you actively removing it! For me this was a breakthrough, because though I had many many random thoughts, I could return my focus to breathing and find that quiet center again. Yes, you will probably have to do this all the time when you meditate, but in time you will see results in how long you go without extra thoughts.
This idea can be applied elsewhere in your life also. Do you have a song in your head that you absolutely hate? Find a song that you love and sing that in your head until it overwhelms the original song. Is there something bothering you? Think of something else. Focus on something that is more useful to you. The applications to your life are limitless and can help you gain control over the ever wandering mind.
Best of luck in your practice.April 22, 2007 at 6:04 am #143782blacksh33pParticipant
one of the things i am currently trying to overcome is the constant playing of music in my head.
people call popular music the devil’s music and i’m beginning to see why. not that there’s anything wrong with the music itself, but that it is distracting and a nuisance to one trying to spiritually progress. it gets stuck in your head and seems impossible to make it stop. even if i’m not actively playing the song in my head i can hear the faint melodies and rhythm in the back of my mind. and it won’t stop even if i tell it to, which shows that i am not in control.
however i have been working on a subconscious trigger to help stop it. whenever the music plays i simply think or even verbally state “music stop”. just something quick, easy, absolute. addressing the problem and giving an absolute command. like a child it tries to buck me and push itself. but the more you state it the more it works its way into your subconscious.
in fact saying it out loud, even whispering it, offers benefit. it puts it into a physical form. you think it, you say it, you hear it, you have an emotional feeling of dissatisfaction and a feeling of how you will feel when your will is accomplished, and if you visualize the words “music stop” in your mind, then that adds that aspect as well.
it does seem to help. but it’s something you have to be consistent with and do frequently.
another way to help this is to cut back on such music and listen to other kinds that are not prone to such things such as catchiness. when i’m at the computer i like to play ambient chill, such as at digitally imported, and i have no such problems.
i’m also working on a similar trigger for unwanted daydreams and other such distractions. the more i get the music and daydreams to stop the more calm i feel and the less problems seem to bother me. i just feel calm, at peace. even in stressful situations. i just need to continue with it and be more consistent with it.April 22, 2007 at 5:56 pm #143798JaxKeymaster
I also have music constantly in my head, but it’s something I’ve come to accept. As a musician, and someone going into a career in music, it’s not something that I will be able to control much. The only thing I worry about is if it is a song I hate. Then I purposely put another song in my head that I know well. It tends to overpower the other song, and before I know it, both are gone for a time.
The other thing is to remove your reaction to the music. If it annoys you, now it has power over you because you’re reacting. If it’s just background noise, it will have less effect. It might naturally go away over time.
I also view it as a positive thing. My brain finds very interesting connections sometimes. I’ll have one song in my head, and it will morph into another song. It’s usually a very odd mix of songs, so I spend some time figuring out why my brain associates the two. In that process I tend to learn something completely new. But, that’s more useful if you’re going to be a music producer and engineer like I am.April 23, 2007 at 4:01 am #143817blacksh33pParticipantQuote:The other thing is to remove your reaction to the music. If it annoys you, now it has power over you because you’re reacting. If it’s just background noise, it will have less effect. It might naturally go away over time.
good point. i’ll have to consider that.
i (somewhat) play guitar so i know the feeling… but it’s not something i do on any serious level. just playing around for the enjoyment of it. unfortunately when i come up with good ideas THOSE don’t get stuck in my head… :April 23, 2007 at 4:22 am #143819JaxKeymaster
lol, of course not, they never do!
I think that a lot depends on how your brain is wired. For some people, music is always running. For others, it is an internal critique of themselves or others. Maybe some see patterns in their head. I doubt it is something we can ever truly control. But maybe it is, if you are consistent enough with your efforts. I guess it’s not high enough on my list of things to learn to worry about right now. But if you find something that works, continue to share.April 23, 2007 at 5:25 pm #143821steven.drew2Participant
I’ve had that same issue for about 6 months, the random thoughts, and still do. I learned a trick that helped me. I would sit in a comfy position, close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and focused on seeing an object(mine was a 3-D Rotating Triangle). After focusing on that for x amount of time, it would fade away along with all the other thoughts and I could feel relaxed and rejuvinated.April 24, 2007 at 11:17 pm #143839inariParticipant
My ‘visualisation’ to get rid of unwanted thoughts/music is to lay a ‘blanket’ over them.April 24, 2007 at 11:33 pm #143841JaxKeymaster
Interesting…April 25, 2007 at 3:25 am #143845Kai-AnParticipant
Yeah, I take a deep breath and sort of catch all the energy in my head and press it down, releasing it when I breath out. Relaxing the mind.
What you learned from those buddhists is really valuable Jax. Contact with another tradition of meditation always revitalizes ones practice- I went on a zen buddhist retreat a month ago and it was fantastic. Especially since I’ve always been really bad at Zazen. Practice makes… well, better I guess.
Kai-AnJune 3, 2007 at 6:49 am #144287Alchemic_WrathParticipant
I hate that annoying song thing. I was trying to meditate when Hey You by Pink Flloyd flew right into my head. I eventually got it to leave…But then 3 different Nirvana songs mixed up and played in my head. (On a Plain, Litium, Breed) It sounded like it would be called Breeding on a Plain taking Lithium. I just got fed up and stopped. One other thing that happens is I often fall asleep while meditating. It really sucks. I am starting to more get a hang of it recently.
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