The mind’s stream

If you are still – really still – for a while, you might start to notice the stream of thought that runs below the surface of everything, a stream that seems to flow on and on even when you’re not consciously thinking at all.

Like most of us, perhaps you’re so caught up in this stream that you hardly notice it. But all the time it’s affecting you – ushering in particular moods, comparing you with others, making plans and undoing them again, judging, blaming, hoping, longing, musing, playing, working things out.

This stream of thought is an expression of your relationship with yourself, with time, with life. Watching it attentively, so you can see what is really there, can be startling and liberating, because it’s shaping so much of what you do and don’t do, and what it feels like to be you.

If you practice being still and watching this regularly enough and for long enough, you can gradually develop the capacity to see through your habitual patterns of thinking instead of being caught up in them. And when you’re no longer bound so tightly by the horizons of an otherwise invisible current, the world gets just a little bigger.

Such mindfulness is an important skill for each of us to cultivate, because often we put all our attention downstream, on our actions and their consequences, rather than upstream on what gives rise to them.

And it’s an important leadership skill, because if you don’t know yourself well enough to see through what’s shaping you, how can you expect to take responsibility for your actions, or understand others?

Photo Credit: schoeband via Compfight cc

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