The Restless Mind - The Constantly Thinking Mind
By Remez Sasson
The natural tendency of the mind is to be restless and constantly think. It jumps from one thought to another, never standing still.
The restless mind allows thoughts to come and go all the time, from morning till night, without resting for a moment. Most of these thoughts are not exactly invited; they just come, occupy our attention for a while, and then disappear, making place for other thoughts.
Thoughts, like clouds in the sky, drift here and there. Like the clouds, thoughts are not stable or permanent. One moment you might be thinking one thought, and the next moment a different thought. Due to their ceaseless movement, they distract the attention and disturb the focus.
Thoughts also resemble the waves of the ocean, which are always in a state of motion, never standing still. When you stand on the shore on a windy day, you see wave after wave rushing to the shore, one following the other. The mind is the ocean, and thoughts are the waves, creating movement, whirlpools and foam.
The Filters of the Mind
The mind always thinks, analyzes and compares. It likes to find reasons and motives, to ask questions, create problems and try to solve them. It wants to be always active.
Everyone has some sort of a filter in the mind, which allows it to accept, let in certain thoughts and beliefs, and reject others. This is the reason why some people occupy their minds with thoughts about a certain subject, while others don't even think about the same subject.
- Why some people are attracted to football, and others don't?
- Why some people love and admire a certain singer, while other people don't?
- Why some people constantly think about a certain topic, and others never think about it?
The reason for this is the mental filter.
This is an automatic unconscious filter. We never stop and say to certain thoughts, 'come, I want you to occupy my attention', and we never say to other thought, 'go away'. It is an automatic activity.
This filter in the mind started to be built from infancy. It was built by the suggestions and words of our parents and teachers, by the people we have met, and by the experiences we have gone through.
The Restless Mind in Action
Every event, situation or word, has an affect on the mind, which produces thoughts in accordance with them. The mind is like a thought factory, working in shifts, day and night, producing thoughts.
The mind also gets thoughts directly from the surrounding world. The space around us is full of thoughts, which we constantly pick, let pass through our minds, and then pick up new ones. It is like catching fish in the ocean, throwing them back into the water, and then catching new ones.
This activity of the restless mind occupies our attention all the time. Now our attention is on this thought, and then on another one. We spend a lot of energy and attention on these passing thoughts, most of them being unimportant, wasting our time and energy.
Constant Thinking Means Lack of Freedom
If we cannot stop our thoughts and give our mind some rest, and cannot control the flow of thoughts in our mind, it means that we lack of freedom. It means that we are subjugated by the whims of the mind and allow thoughts to control us, our attention and our life.
If we lack control over our thoughts, it is as if some outside power is always putting a thought in front of us, making us pay attention to it. It is like a relentless boss constantly giving us a job to do.
When do we enjoy real freedom? Only when we are able to choose our thoughts or order the mind to be quiet. There is freedom, when we are able to decide which thought to think, and which one to reject. We live in freedom, when we are able to stop the incessant flow our thoughts.
Stopping the flow of thoughts might look like an infeasible feat, but concentration exercises and meditation, can eventually lead to this condition.
It is within your reach to calm the restless and constantly thinking mind and to enjoy inner peace.