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  • Written by  Jerome Stone
  • // Tuesday, 03 January 2012 19:22
Jerome Stone

Taming the Soap Opera Mind. Are We Addicted to Distraction?

There’s so much information available to us on how to meditate, when to meditate, even with whom to meditate. With what we have available, you’d think that we’d all be able to master meditation with ease. Nope!

Since first learning to meditate, after years of meditation, I’ve come to realize that there’s something that is definitely opposed to my peace of mind and finding my “meditative mind,” and that is…the soap opera mind!

Even though I’ve learned how to find more peace and contentment in my daily life, and have learned – ever so slightly – how to remain less distracted while engaged in meditation on and off of the cushion, there remains a stubborn and persistent part of my mind that seems to want to run after every possible nasty scenario imaginable, making my mind more like a soap opera than a meditation tape. More like a turbulent river rather than a quiet lake.

This "non-meditative mind," the mind that is habituated to distraction, still remains despite all of my practice and my moments of astoundingly drama-free contentment. Like a soap opera, this mind likes to chase after…even create drama and seems to thrive on staying busy. In an attempt to keep things stirred up, it scans the horizon of my mind, looking for some small ripple of turbulence to whip into a typhoon.

So, how the hell do we tame this soap opera mind? What do we have to do to put this mind to rest? Is there somewhere I can go to get treatment for this addiction to distraction?

What I’ve found, and I hope that it’s helpful to the readers of this blog, is that this confused mind may actually hold within its grasp a key to its own cessation. Have you ever noticed that there's space between the drama, that there are times - no matter how addicted we are to thoughts - when there's nothing going on. Have you ever had times when your mind is at peace, even for a brief moment? It’s like the opposite of distraction is always just a moment away, just a turning of the mind in another direction.

When I’m engaged within my meditative mind, I find that it helps me to open up that space between the drama, allowing me to experience more the essence of meditation, becoming less engaged in the soap opera. Even just practicing meditation when we haven't perfected it allows us brief periods of rest from the habitual addiction to strife and drama. It gives us the space to realize that there’s something else besides daytime soap operas, there’s a whole bunch of channels devoted exclusively to contentment, peace and clarity!

I’ve noticed that as I change my habits of distraction and become used to the process of engaging my meditative mind, I find that the dramas no longer hold the same kind of allure. I know that for myself, even though I'll hear myself bemoaning life's circumstances to someone who's offered a sympathetic ear, even in those times when I bother to complain, there's a part of my mind watching me and saying, "What's the big deal?!"

Meditation helps us to see that our thoughts and the drama (both actual and imagined) that evolve from our thoughts are fleeting and without substance. We can spend hours contemplating the most grandiose schemes or the most awful scenarios, only to have them fade away and then our wondering why we ever entertained them in the first place. Meditation helps us to break our cycle of addiction to these ways of thinking, returning us instead to our strife-free mind, one that gradually remains in a state free from want and worry.

This site is full of great reasons to meditate and wonderful step-by-step techniques to help us learn how to meditate. Can anyone think of one reason why we wouldn’t want to give up our habit of distraction, turn off the channel of our mind from 24/7 soap operas to (at least) occasional tranquility? Where’s that remote?!