Meredith: When I meditate, I often find my thoughts flowing; memories rise up, emotions rise up, bodily sensations all become rather present in a way they were not before. When I realize my thoughts are rambling, I bring myself back to my breath, to this moment now, and now, and now. Sometimes, as I have been taught, I might say to myself, "thoughts" or "sounds" or "sensations" etc, to sort of claim and categorize what my mind is focusing on, so that I can then watch it dissolve the focus (only then so very soon observe my thoughts take on yet another shape). In the long hours of sitting at retreat, I began to get a little more creative with my categories, such as noticing when my thoughts were memories, or when my emotions were of sorrow, etc. One such category that I noticed myself claiming, almost more than any other of my thinking patterns, was what I began to term "fiction". This was the label I gave to my thinking when I was building stories about what might happen, or a story about what could have happened, or what someone may have done or said, invented conversations, etc.
I was thinking about this tendency and its relationship to scripts. Our minds, my mind anyway, so naturally moves into scripts or invented fictions of reality. I wondered how much of my day is spent in this kind of thinking. I think it might be a lot of the time, if my meditation time is any indication. It is helpful, it would seem, to bring conscious awareness to the way our minds work. My first tendency is to pass some judgment about it, such as thinking in scripts or fiction is a bad or wrong way of thinking. But I quickly see humor in the judgment, too. Who says it's bad? We wouldn't have storytellers or playwrights without fiction and script thinking. But do you see the trickiness of fiction thinking? Do you see that lines between fiction and reality are hazy? Do you experience that this is rather exciting in fact, that we aren't always clear if something is fiction or fact?
Mind ramblings this bright day, when homework and taxes are on the table in front of me.
Aki: I've been pondering this, thinking about what you said here about fiction and fact and meditation.
I have many fictions, thoughts and fantasies. I find when I cling to them I suffer. When I release them, as in meditation, I enjoy, the moment, this living moment. There is joy. I release into freshness, spontaneity and authenticity. When I hold on to my fictions, or facts for that matter, I tend to suffer. When I hold on to a fiction, thought or fantasy it is a short trip to manipulation, orchestration, attempting to control, and scripting. Imagination, imaging, fantasizing, creating a fiction is one thing, but quickly I tend to move unconsciously to manipulation and trying to control.
By itself fantasy or imagination can inform, give messages, possibilities, alternatives, suggest direction, opportunity. I have response-ability. I can nurture the fantasy or thought or I can release it, let it go. With awareness and the ability to respond with awareness, our behavior tends to be accurate and authentic. But it seems without this important awareness we are like a leaf on the wind, animated by these thoughts and fantasies or facts in an unconscious way. When it is unconscious our behavior is generally in the service of survival and security, following the impulse of want and fear.
When I become fascinated and preoccupied with a thought or fantasy or a fact pattern, then I am susceptible to the human tendency toward behavior driven by unconscious want or fear. But if I stay present, conscious, aware, like in meditation, meditative awareness then neither fact nor fiction hinders. I am not attempting to manipulate or script life, but responding through wakefulness. In this way I nurture wakefulness, soulfulness. I nurture the emerging essence. And it is so joyful to see and feel being meeting itself, perfection recognizing perfection everywhere. This awareness can be nurtured.