Monday, June 25, 2012

Through the Undercurrents of Mind

When in Hawaii, as I am right now, one gets constantly reminded of the need to watch for dangerous undercurrents. One can get lost in the sea, and if not skillful, never make it back even . . . Walking the long stretch of Kailua beach, I had plenty of time to feel and move through another kind of undercurrents, in the mind.  Working too much, not giving the mind enough opportunities to watch itself, was threatening to take me down, and I had to use all my acquired wisdom, and the power of concentrated mindfulness to get myself out. 

Walking, walking, and feeling each step, foot digging into the soft, cool, wet sand. Being with the unpleasantness of drowned heart. Watching the unwholesome thoughts that had been stirring for quite some time, and were at the source. Familiar, underlying tendencies that need to be caught over and over again, or even better yet, averted before they even get a chance to take hold. I had been negligent, and was being caught right in the middle. I had to be clever. Just like with the ocean, it was important to linger in the current for a while rather than trying to get out right away, a lost cause indeed. I remembered Ayya Khema's list, and saw this as an opportunity to better understand the mind, my own mind. Down the list I went, and found at the very bottom, a clinging to 'me', and the delusion of wanting life to unfold a certain way, 'my' way. Treacherous assumptions that threatened the possibility of peace and true happiness. 

Mind had to let go, and seize the first opportunity out. Amazed, I watched the whole process  unfold. Later in the day, I had dinner with a wise, old friend, a mad scientist who says it like it is. And I resonated with his point, about the fragile nature of our existence, and the need to live life fully, authentically, and without fears.

Do you ever get caught also? Which undercurrents threaten to overtake you most often?


  1. As an introvert, I have to take care not to schedule too many "stimulating" events back-to-back. This may mean that I don't go out two evenings in a row, or that I keep on weekend day to keep to myself. If I overschedule myself, I end up drained, and that makes me vulnerable to being "caught." When I'm tired, my mind tends to run away without me--which is sometimes what it literally feels like.

    Sometimes, thankfully, simply reminding myself that I'm in one of those (tired) states is enough to turn the volume down on the chatter.

  2. Thank you, Clara. Great reminder . . .