Beyond the Body-Mind Connection: A Meditative State of Being
Updated: May 19, 2019
Thus far, the description of body awareness has focused on the interaction of the mind and body. What there is to know about the mind, independent of the body, takes fewer words—but is of great importance.
Because our minds are completely preoccupied with quietly sensing and releasing the tension in our bodies, we are not thinking about anything else. Suddenly, a thought arises, or you notice that you have been following a stream of thoughts for an indistinct period. Such mental activity is a distraction from the quiet state of contemplation we had reached and were in just a moment ago. We must let thoughts go. If we wish to keep the mind quiet and the body relaxed, we must return our focus to our body and the sensation of release. We cannot do that and, at the same time, be sorting through thoughts about anything else. A body awareness practice is not a time for multitasking. Letting thoughts go is not rejecting or suppressing them. It is simply acknowledging that the mind has offered a thought and that we need to let it go and return to our contemplative state of awareness.
Even when we are being entirely diligent about focusing our attention, thoughts will pop into our minds. The mind produces thoughts the same way the salivary glands produce saliva. The mind is relentlessly producing thoughts, regardless of whether we are aware of what it is doing or not.
Most thoughts are completely random and insignificant. For most thoughts, once they come to our attention, letting them go is not difficult and we return our concentration to its point of focus.
Rarely, but sometimes, an intruding thought will be so important that it brings the practice to an end. It is about something that needs prompt attention. It is not a thought to ignore. Most thoughts, however, we can just let go.
Some thoughts are a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Sometimes, in the middle of a practice, out of the quiet of the mind, a thought will present itself that is sharp and bright. It is a vivid insight. While the mind was quiet, it connected dots that the busy, distracted, conscious mind had not.
The mind can only make such connections when it is at rest. At rest, the mind can operate “outside the box” and make connections not otherwise available. When the mind is not at rest, we can ask it to search for and it will make connections, but those will only happen from inside the box. Vivid insightful thought-events are completely unpredictable, but they are not usually frequent occurrences. Such thoughts are a gift. Unlike all those other thoughts that we let go, this is a thought worth remembering. It is a valuable thought. Don’t stop to write it down. Just ask yourself to remember it and, as soon as possible, go back to focusing your awareness. If you don’t return immediately to your practice, you may miss the next thought that distracts you. That next thought may be one of those to just let go, but it just might be another pot of gold!
If we keep practicing, another valuable thought will eventually present itself. There are many advantages to cultivating an awareness of the body, and exploring the mind-body connection, but once we have had the thoughts that emerge from complete relaxation no other motivation is needed.