“When sitting in meditation, say ‘That’s not my business!” with every thought that comes by.” (Ajaan Chah)
**Morning Intention: To notice when I am caught in a painful pattern of thought and to drop it “mid-sentence”.
One of our greatest delusions is that the stories we tell ourselves have beginnings and ends. We know on some level that obsessing over our jobs, relationships, or apartments isn’t healthy, but there’s a voice in the mind that says, “Just let the obsession play out till the end. Then you can go back to being happy.” But of course, that isn’t how it works: the longer you go along with an obsession, the more chapters and installments get created, like a terrible TV series in which the plot and acting are horrible, but for some reason there’s always funding for still another season.
We talk a lot about responsibility, but the truth is we feel responsible for far too much, and in particular, our excessive sense of obligation toward every thought that arises is one of the main reasons we can’t fulfill our wish to be happy. Most of our thoughts are like those strangers who corner us at parties and want to get our advice about this or that. You can have compassion for such people, but at some point you have to realize you can’t help them, and furthermore, if you go on listening politely but endlessly, you’re going to feel resentful and unseen. That’s exactly what happens when we go along with our mental rants: we start to feel unseen and taken advantage of.
So here’s the practice: Today, when you find yourself caught in a particular pattern of thought, just drop it “mid-sentence” and tell yourself, “That’s none of my business.” Learn to interrupt yourself kindly but firmly. Your time here is limited, and whether you make the most of it is really up to you.
Featured image by Ai Weiwei