Understanding the cause of heightened, acute anxiety can be very helpful when one is in the process of changing behavior patterns in order to create new mental reactions. By sitting in meditation and watching thoughts rise without getting attached to them, one can attain a state of mind that will benefit them tremendously.
This is easier said than done, though. Controlling the mind for the purpose of relaxing is a hard thing to achieve. But it can be done, and done well, with practice. It's much like the process of learning any other skill: Not many skills come naturally, and humans have few (if any) instincts as such.
This begs the question of what practicing of mastering the mind consists of. And it's actually a likely scenario that the mind is practicing mastering itself. It can be helpful to understanding of this by picturing the mind as consisting of two entities. One of the two is the “child mind” that essentially is just going with the flow and having little control over the thoughts and responses that flow in it. The other is an overhead viewer that we can refer to as “the observer.”
I think of the observer as the higher self. The observer is less attached to the outcome of things. The observer does have its problems understanding life and the problems that life poses. But it's learning and moving us towards positive growth and enlightenment.
I think of this in the context of enlightenment: Enlightenment happens as the two entities of the mind into one “integrated mind.” And the integrated mind experiences pure awareness and is lacking in judgments that lead back to suffering.
In my own experience, I've gotten to points at which I experienced no judgment in my mind, and I’m thinking specifically of one situation in which this was the case. But after some time I felt lower back pain that distracted me for a moment. At that point the distraction got the better of me, and I got lost in thought.
Removal of judgment is crucial to me in my journey to getting to points of enlightenment more and more often. And I've found that I can get to the place of no judgment more easily as I get older. And I'll fluctuate between being in a place of single-minded meditation to being in contemplation of “good thoughts” (even though doing so entails making a value judgment regarding good) that are pertinent to my survival. Survival is my primary objective, and living free is a secondary one to me.
Survival should be everyone’s primary objective. Life is precious—its value is immeasurable. To live in your mind while in your body is a great gift, and the gift is of time, space, emotions, compassion, love, learning, growth, and experience of the divine.
Meditation is a golden key that unlocks our divine capacity to find light in the mind and live free of mental suffering. And I'll ask you to read that previous sentence over and over again and let it permeate your mind and heart with its truth.
Mental stillness is a remarkable state of being, and the ability to achieve it is a wonderful gift. Stillness of mind makes us able to create, both through traditional creative avenues such as music and art and through speaking words of love and compassion that create goodness in other human beings. Stillness of mind even enables us to find answers to mysteries even when we're not seeking such answers. And stillness of mind heals the mind, but it does so through a process that takes time and cannot be rushed or forced.
By simply sitting in meditation and practicing breathing exercises—observing thoughts, listening deeply to sounds, and feeling sensations in the body as we do—we are in effect “tuning” the mind to make it a more efficient machine.
Through self-improvement achieved through meditation and other practices, we can make things better for other humans, other creatures, and the planet itself, as well as for ourselves. We can improve, solve problems, and become the beings we were designed to be. And I believe that in time we can even become part of a supreme prototype of life that will emerge on countless planets.