Stopping the mental chatter and the jumbled mind
There’s a drawing that floats around social media from time to time about the two stick characters chatting and one says, “What the hell is that?” The other character answers back, “It’s just my mind.” Have you seen it? Really, it’s an illustration of mental chatter and the jumbled mind.
I would copy/paste the image here, but I love properly crediting the artist and I couldn’t find the original source.
Before I started to meditate, that’s what my mind looked like. And after a decade of meditating, it might be just a little less jumbled than that image. Since there is already so much out there on the subject of meditation and its benefits, I thought I’d share a short story illustrating what it can do for the mind.*
And well, maybe it has a little literary twist.
I met him at the cafe
I thought it would be just a meeting to catch up like old times. I had no idea what Leif would do to me.
I’d met him at the cafe. I hadn’t seen him in nearly a decade and I’d heard he’d been traveling in Thailand. He’d probably have some interesting stories to tell.
“Leif!” I called when I entered the cafe. He rose from his table to greet me.
“Jack! It’s great to see you. Have a seat.”
He wore a denim jacket over a t-shirt. His faded jeans looked like they’d been washed hundreds of times. His hair was longer than the last time I’d seen him and his face was scruffier, but otherwise he looked the same.
He’d taken the liberty to order me a coffee and thankfully hadn’t added any sugar or cream. I noticed that he was drinking green tea.
We began chatting and Leif told me of his stories of travel through rural Indonesia and Thailand. He mentioned that he ran out of money at one point and ended up working at a monastery for a while to save enough to come back home. He enjoyed the simple lifestyle so much that he decided to stay for nearly ten years!
His stories touched on helping nameless kids in the streets, and making food for the tiny community in which he’d found himself. He even poked a little fun at his language mistakes in Thai.
He turned to me after the broad update of his life. “What have you been doing with yourself?”
I shrugged. “I’ve never quite found my calling. Right now, I’m sort of just doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”
Leif’s face grew pensive. Silent. For a moment I wondered if he was still conscious. “You have a lot of mind chatter,” he finally said.
I blinked. I looked up and away while I processed what he might have meant. “Well, yes, I –”
“No,” he interrupted. “You can’t see your potential. You can’t see past all the noise in your mind to know what you’re really meant to do.”
I could only look at him. My mental chatter had certainly increased during the course of this conversation.
Stopping the mental chatter“What if I told you that all the chatter can stop? What if I told you that you could discover your full potential once you cut through all the muck?” Click To Tweet
“I’d say that you’re probably a salesperson. That you’d want to sell me some gimmick.”
“No gimmicks. What I have to give is not for sale.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know what you’re saying. I—”
Leif reached over and placed his hand on my forehead. Instinctively I tried to pull away. But only a second or two after I felt his touch, I relaxed. I felt a calming, electric sensation on my brow. I was vaguely aware that the people around us were probably staring. I had no idea what Leif was doing but I wanted to stay put.
I felt the menagerie of words fall to the depths of my mind. They were replaced by a kind of bliss that was all-consuming. Purple and blue flashes of light zig-zagged across my consciousness.
I don’t know how long Leif had had his hand on my head, but he gently began to pull away. I wanted more and I wanted to stay there. In that place of contentment. I didn’t even know what that place was, but I’d never felt anything like it.
Still, Leif pulled away. My eyes were closed and for a moment I stood there, with nothing moving except the expansion and contraction of my lungs as I breathed. I opened my eyes and stared at him.
What did you do to me?
“What did you do to me?” I asked. It wasn’t an accusation. I smiled at him, wanting to know how he’d cut through all those thoughts.
“I merely showed your brain how to stop all those bouncing words that happen every second. It’s what allows you to ‘see’.”
For the first time in my life, my mind was blank. I gazed out the window to take in this feeling and looked back at Leif.
He continued, “This – what you’re experiencing – won’t last long. But you will find that if you ask your biggest questions right now, you’ll find the answers.”
I closed my eyes. I didn’t tell Leif what question I had. My question just appeared in my mind. A few moments later, emerging from my mind’s dark abyss, an answer emerged. It was clear, as if I’d known it all along.
“You have known the answers all along. You just needed to be shown how,” Leif said, as if he’d read my last thought.
I know what I have to do
Shaking my head side to side, I took in a deep breath. I wasn’t exactly sure what Leif had showed me, but the sudden realization of what I had to do instilled a fire of urgency in me. It was a peaceful feeling, however.
I realized at once how short life really is and that we have less time than we think to get things done. I closed my eyes again and envisioned myself following through on long-forgotten dreams and hopes.
When I opened my eyes, Leif was gone. I looked around, expecting to see him at the counter ordering another cup of tea. Perhaps he’d excused himself to the restroom. I waited. Five minutes. Then ten minutes. After twenty minutes I knew he wasn’t coming back. It didn’t matter. I knew what I had to do.
*Friends, I have been writing these flash fiction / micro fiction stories for awhile. My thought behind these (besides the creative fun in doing these) is that there are so many non-fiction articles about meditation and mindfulness out there.
These stories are my antidote to that. Do you like them? Do you want to see more/less/the same amount of them? Please let me know in the comments. 🙂