Mental health is partly about finding ways to organise our lives wisely. Our minds are not built to multitask, and anything that helps us to have a single focus is welcome. This is the main psychological function of order: to bring our attention down to one or two manageable objects.
LIFE IS CHAOS
Life, though, has a tendency towards chaos. It will pull our attention away from our chosen focus, and on to a variety of themes and interruptions. Just try meditating: within seconds, the mind will drift away onto a favourite story or obsession. Keeping focus is the exception rather than the rule.
BRINGING ORDER VIA THE MIND
How can we bring order to our chaotic world?
- One way is to try to control the whole universe, to make it ‘behave’. This is not very practical, as no one can control the whole universe in this way.
- A second, more practical, way, is to master our mind, so that our attention is focused and relaxed.
GIVING UP THE NEED FOR CONTROL
Just for today, I accept that I cannot control my universe externally. The things that will appear to me are not ‘out there’, and the solutions are not ‘out there’. Rather, everything that happens is a function of the operations of my mind. If I want to experience a simple, easy life, then I had better train my mind into simple and easy attention.
EXPANDING THE MIND
Just for today, I will understand that the chaotic world ‘out there’ does not really exist in an ultimate sense. I need not be afraid of it, because it is not out to get me. It is simply a series of interdependent interactions, like waves which are part of the whole sea. By embracing the whole sea, I can accept the waves.
RESTING THE MIND ON THE WHOLE
I can meditate like a person looking out to sea. I will witness individual waves, but I will appreciate that my events and perceptions are just transient parts of a whole picture. Everything that happens to me is just part of that big sea. By resting my mind on the whole, I cannot be disturbed by any part. My usual anxieties will seem petty and empty.
Just for today, when I feel myself getting ‘caught up’ in life, I will remember that I need not be attached to any particular outcome or control. I will accept the entire universe as it is, and will wisely act in the light of this acceptance. In the midst of apparent chaos, my mind will stay simple and easy.