With enough meditation practice, you can get in the groove to watch and know your mental flow without getting caught up in sub-stories. Let's say that every time you think of that girl who suddenly turned inexplicably cool and distant, you get a little peeved. No, not a little peeved, make that damned straight peeved as anybody would be who got treated that way. When you think of the way you felt, the loyalty you had shown, blah, blah, blah….
That is the sort of thinking that shows getting caught up in the story. You normally think of a subject and then you think about that subject: is the job finished? What is the next thing that ought to be done…. and so forth. But with enough awareness of your mind and the way you tend to use it, you see that you are thinking of that girl that you get peeved about or the job and its next step. You can develop a skill of simply watching your mental flow for a while as a kind of meditation.
Sometimes, what you can observe of the flow is better than watching television. You can observe that you do jump around mentally but it is not random. One thought leads to another, things that have been in the back of your mind for a while come forth. Your basic drives of hunger, thirst, affection, duty all suggest what you might get started thinking about. You can get the urge to have a cup of coffee, it can build up to quite a strong level and then you can remember that you never called your friend back and have yet again put off sorting and folding that clean laundry. You could almost decide it is good to sit with a pad and pencil since good ideas and important tasks can flow through the mind so quickly that you need to jot them down.
You can see that I have not mentioned any sacred persons, religious figures or holy texts. As I have written recently, the advantages of meditation are many and one of the most fundamental is being closer friends with your mind and mental habits. If you have practiced concentration on a point, be it visual or physical like your breathing, for a while, you might want to try simply observing your mind's flow. At first, there may be no flow since you are there watching. But within 3 to 5 minutes, there will be. In fact, by then, you may be thinking of a good dinner you are anticipating or be in some other area of thought. If you catch yourself doing that, note the subject if you want but then go back to a blank-ish mind and take up observing to see what gets shown next.
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