Where the mind is headed

Where are you headed?

If you were asked that question when you’re driving to a destination, you have an easy answer. Say you’re driving to a theater to watch a play, which is west of where you live. You have a route in mind and you follow this route faithfully. It may have narrow roads and you may encounter traffic. But you know that it is still the easiest way to get to the theater. Just because there is a broad and empty highway heading south from where you live, you do not take it. When it comes to driving somewhere, we are all purposeful individuals.

And yet, if I were to ask your mind where you were headed right now, what would its response be? Our minds are wanderers. They do not have a pre-defined route and when we give them a route, they do their best not to stick to it. When the going gets tough, our minds simply turn away from discomfort. When we ask our minds to head west and they encounter a traffic jam, they turn south into the fast and easy highway and lose themselves in several hours of blissful procrastination. While we are purposeful when we drive somewhere, our minds that drive us are anything but purposeful.

To be mindful is to simply observe the mind as it takes its twists and turns. It is to set a wild stallion free on a meadow and observe where it goes. It is to see which turns the mind takes and to ask why it does so. This way, we aren’t trying to control our mind, but to merely understand it. To control it would be like taming a wild animal – either we do not succeed, or if we do, we reduce a magnificent being to a shadow of its former self.

To meditate is to ask ourselves where we are headed, with a sense of curiosity and openness.

Where are you headed?

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