Don't Jump on Every Train of Thought

My friend Tom brought me to my first meditation group on a Sunday night at a Yoga studio 30 minutes away from where I lived. The meditation group was fine but the car ride was formative.
 
Tom told me that our minds were a bit like Grand Central Station. Thoughts came rushing in like trains full of busy commuters. The conductor blows his whistle and each thought demands our attention. Meditation, Tom said, is our chance to stand on the platform and not jump on every train that comes through the station.
 
I love that metaphor and it has helped my practice immensely over the years. I meditate before I go to work and I easily find myself caught up in the to do list for the day. “This is really important!” the task list demands. But I know I have everything written down and have time to do my work at work! I can let that train of thought go by without jumping on it.
 
Our brain pays attention to what we believe is important. Before we started meditating we didn't have a conscious choice in the stream of thoughts that come rushing out of our unconscious mind. Much of the freedom of our practice comes from being able to pick and choose which thoughts we'll let develop (maybe we want to stick with love and joy) and which thoughts we'll let go (maybe we don't need as much worry and anxiety.)
 
Reminding ourselves that this practice is important will help shape unconscious thinking, letting us focus on our breath as a higher priority. No need to jump on every train of thought that comes rushing by demanding attention. Simply let the trains go by and keep standing on the platform.
 
May your practice be strong!

Best,
Anthony A. Cernera
ZenHappinessProject.com