It’s pretty amazing to me how one small little thought in our minds has the capacity to spread out all over the place like a meticulously created web that traps you in. My husband and I were talking about it this morning and he gave me a perfect example of exactly this kind of thought process. He said it’s like this Zen cast he had been listening to and how this lady was saying how it’s funny how one minute you notice this little discomfort in your knee and the next minute your thought has formulated a scenario of you going in for knee surgery the following week. All this from a little discomfort you originally felt in your knee.
I definitely know what this feels like because just as my mind can sometimes be my best friend, at other times the extent to where my imagination has gone and the level of anxious thoughts I’ve produced have very much been like being caught in a web. When I think about the capacity our mind has to thread all these exaggerated scenarios from one small thought, I think wow we could all be pretty amazing creative people. Maybe not all of us battle with our thoughts going out of control, but if you do or ever have you can definitely understand where I’m coming from.
Over the years I’ve gotten so much better with it, because really my capacity to thread devastating outcomes from one fearful thought was Oscar worthy. I was telling my husband how this form of thought process is like a fear or anxiety driven defense mechanism. It’s as if by coming up with the extreme worst case scenario for that one thought we are somehow preparing ourselves for the worst should the bad thing actually happen. But often times all we’re doing is allowing our thought to take us off on an extreme tangent and giving ourselves more fear/anxiety than what we first started with.
Having God in my life and also meditation (although I could meditate much more) has made me more aware of this and helped me in not always allowing the thread to run wild. It isn’t always easy but I do find that when I become aware of where the thought is going and trust in God and take a few breaths I realize that I maintain a better balance with my emotions. It takes effort and practice though because your mind always wants to go back to the thought and take you for the ride. It may sound too simplistic but I love the example my husband gave me that I believe he learned in Zen practice, that it’s not about ignoring our thoughts, but rather seeing them like a cloud in the sky. Be aware of the thought, acknowledge it, and let it pass on.
Maybe today that can be something to practice if you battle with wandering thoughts. It does take time, practice, and effort, and at least for myself I’ve noticed a nicer change in the way I see my thoughts. Occasionally I do fall back a little and a thought begins to run loose but like everything in life, I just pick myself right back up and start again.