I hear a lot about “quieting the mind.” Somehow we have this notion that we can or should rid the mind of all thoughts in order to penetrate the deeper truth and reality of things. This would be the equivalent of telling a bird not to fly or a fish not to swim. The mind thinks – end of story. It is a concept-generating machine. That’s just what it does in the same way that a bird flies and fish swim. The mind (and its cognitive functions) along with the functioning of your body is what allows you to have a human experience. The mind is not a problem, and you’re never going to stop your mind from being a mind and thinking.
In a nutshell, this is how it goes. New and different thoughts are continuously bubbling up in your mind like a fountain. They arise spontaneously based on conditions or circumstances. When this naturally occurs, fine. No problem. This is just what happens.
When this can become a problem is when we reach into the fountain, grab a hold of a thought, analyze it, and work it over and over and over in our conceptualizing mind. This can be a problem in two ways. First it can be a problem if we are grabbing a hold of disempowering, destructive or self-defeating thoughts. Secondly, it can be a problem if we are trying to figure out something the mind is not capable of understanding, like the “peace beyond all comprehension,” or the truth and reality that is beyond the capabilities of the dualistic mind.
Consider it this way. “Quieting the mind” is not stopping the thoughts. “Quieting the mind” is stopping the stopping of thoughts. In other words, let your thoughts happen without restraint or attachment.
A man standing on the banks of a stream can either observe a twig floating by, or he can kneel down, reach out, and grab the twig out of the water. Your thoughts are like the twig. See them, acknowledge them, give them whatever proper attention they truly require, and then let them keep floating down the stream.