Everyone has what we’ll call “big mind”, which is quite wonderful, capable of planning, problem solving, great ideas, and creativity. It can be likened to beautiful wild flowers sprouting up here and there in a mountain meadow.
Then there is the troublesome “small mind” or egoic mind, sometimes referred to as “monkey mind”, which unfortunately, everyone also had. It is borne of fear. It produces negative thoughts of three main kinds: it DOUBTS, FEARS, and JUDGES. If one listens to it, it can wreak all sorts of havoc, causing anxiety, indecisiveness, and guilt. It is, by definition, never content. Even if you won the Nobel Prize, it could question why it took so long, or doubt that it was really deserved.
“Hinduism likens the mind’s restlessness to a crazed monkey cavorting about in its cage. Or rather, a drunken crazed monkey. But more, a drunken, crazed monkey that has St. Vitus’ Dance. Even this is insufficient. The mind is like a drunken crazed monkey with St. Vitus’ Dance who has just been stung by a wasp” Houston Smith
Fortunately, there are ways to manage “small mind” to minimize the trouble it can cause. First of all, it is helpful to think of it as “it”, and not you. Identify instead with inhabiting your body, where you can feel the calmness of knowing the truth as a felt sense, as in the expression: ‘I knew it deep down’.
Where attention goes, energy follows. So if you focus your attention on the truth and the felt sense of it ‘deep down’, it will feel more true. If you want, it helps to use a pleasant image that induces relaxation, as it is easier to trust the truth if one is more relaxed. If, however, you focus your attention on the nonsense produced by “small mind”, it will create distress and cause the body to tense up.
So one strategy is just ignoring it, and focusing your attention on feeling the truth in your body instead. As you continue to do this, the truth feels truer and truer, and the mind quietens.
Another helpful strategy comes from recognizing that small mind is actually trying to protect you, believing that you are in danger when you are not. This seems to be a learned activity, from the past. So you can direct it to notice the calmness of knowing the truth in your body and reassure it that it is safe to trust it and that you are no longer needing that protection. This will allow it to quieten. This feels very empowering, because you are taming “small mind” instead of allowing it to control you and drive you crazy.
You can also use what’s true to argue back with what “small mind” is saying.
You can also recognize it for what it is and dismiss it, laughing at it.
It is important to develop the habit of being aware of “small mind” when it arises, and not trusting it. Dealing with past traumas, or difficulties results in less negativity in thinking, as does treating depression and anxiety with medication.
When one tries to make decisions using “small mind”, one can spend a very long time and still be unsure, or make unwise decisions. Whereas if one goes to a calm state, where there is access to knowing and trusting oneself, groundedness, and wisdom, good guidance is readily available. So why waste time and energy going to the dry creek for water when the river is there? So when you need to make a decision and you’re not calm, the first thing to do is get yourself calm and THEN WONDER about your question. Allow time, and then notice what arises from your wondering. This process, which involves the felt sense of knowing in the body, is a slower process than the frantic rapid thinking of “small mind”. Allowing yourself to “not know” and “wonder” allows insights, truths, and ideas to emerge: the beautiful wildflowers of the wonderful BIG MIND.
So practice slowing down, being aware, wondering, and focusing on the calm feeling of Knowing in the body-on a regular basis.
Even though we all have a “small mind” that has the potential to drive us around the bend, there are ways to manage it, and tame it to become quieter over time.