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Thinking About Not Thinking

closeup of a refreshing glass of water

I don’t know how to ‘clear my mind.’

Sometimes it clears itself, more often than not in recent months.  I can be mid-sentence, and suddenly my brain and emotions are done: Reset.  Control+Alt+Delete.  Hold, please.  We’re rebooting.

But to choose to ‘clear my mind,’ this I don’t know how to do.

It’s like choosing to fall asleep.  You can’t really, truly make yourself do it.

And if I try really hard to clear my mind, then I find that I’m really thinking hard about the process of clearing my mind.  Which isn’t exactly the absence of thinking.closeup of a refreshing glass of water

In some faiths, communities, cultures, and writings, there is much emphasis on reununciation and detachment – on the clearing of one’s mind to make room for greater things.

We are to renounce ourselves from the world.  We are to detach ourselves from our family, friends, self contentment, own will – all so that our feelings and thoughts may be open to the Lord.

Yeah, I don’t get that.  And I don’t get how to do that.

Henri offers me an alternative I can wrap my mind around.  (I can always count on Henri.)

“Yesterday and today the idea occurred to me that instead of excluding, I could include all my thoughts, ideas, plans, projects, worries and concerns and make them into prayer.  Instead of directing my attention only to God, I might direct my attention to all my attachments and lead them into the all-embracing arms of God.”  (The Genesee Diary)

Now, see, this is something I can think on.  (No pun intended.)  (Okay, yes, it was.)

This gives new meaning to the command to “pray without ceasing.”

Perhaps instead of banishing distractions from my mind, I can instead scoop them up and point them – and thereby myself – in the right direction.

Man, that’s easier than trying to think about not thinking.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. This is so accurate about me that it made me laugh. Can I tell you how much I needed to smile today? Well, I did.. desperately. Thank you- as always- for your willingness to share your thoughts and life with us. You make a difference.

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