Monday, November 12, 2012

When Your Train of Thought is a Runaway

My mind works in overdrive sometimes.  Some days my mind will just continue to go on and on with no respite.  It interferes with my sleep and concentration can be difficult or even impossible.

Initially I thought in arrogance that this was just how geniuses thought.  A genius to my mind was simply someone who refused to let go of a problem until it was solved.  And so I just went with the flow even if that meant stress and anxiety over whatever I was pondering.

At this time I was also dealing with depression.  While I was working through the ideas and issues that caused me to be depressed I was finding that my mind still held on to thought patterns despite my best efforts to think in different ways.  Perceived slights from others and feelings of loneliness still haunted me regardless of the evidence in my life that such things were not true.

After much "pondering" I seemed to be out of ideas.  My mind continued to spin as I tried to find the answers to these riddles that kept turning over in my mind.  They appeared to be riddles without answer, and still I couldn't escape the conclusions that my mind reached.

But the grace of God at times will cut through the noise our minds make.  I don't remember exactly when it happened.  I cannot recall the exact moment.  But at one point I was presented with irrefutable evidence that my mind was not processing events properly.  The question finally emerged:  What if my mind is just not disciplined?

I came to realize that my thinking was not thinking at all.  There was to be sure "reasoning" to some degree.  But my thoughts always went down one track, as if it thought on its own and I was simply along for the crazy ride.  Because of my previous lack of discipline, I could not steer my mind to the truth.  It would not process new evidence, only reinterpret evidence to fit the existing view.

My mind was stuck on a one way track.  And it was a runaway train.  I had no control over it.  It thought, and I simply let it run roughshod over any and all evidence to whatever I saw.

The mind requires discipline.  Not just in terms of learning how to reason and follow a train of logic, but also to know when to quiet the mind and absorb information.  To learn when to relax and to learn when to engage.  Like our physical bodies the mind requires tempering and the will to train it properly.

Most importantly the discipline to know when to use the mind.  The mind requires rest like anything else.  A restless mind is just as bad as a lazy mind if not worse.  A lazy mind may perceive that it is lazy.  A restless mind is usually not aware that it is so.

Our thoughts and workings of our "brilliant" minds are not as impressive as we think they are.  Often they are a result of a lack of discipline.  Our digital age only aggravates this situation with instant access to information in bite sizes.  Darting from one thing to the next we don't take the time to process and digest what we have learned, if anything.

There are ways to discipline thought however.  This we will discuss later.  For now, simply know that our modern minds are not superior simply because we are moderns.  In fact, we could use some medieval thought discipline in our lives.

No comments: