Wandering Mind – Friend or Foe?

“I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it’s all, it’s all for nothing”

-R.E.M. (World Leader Pretend)

Brief Intro

When I originally penned this I hadn’t intended on sharing it publically. I often write down things that consume my thoughts for no other reason than to put them in writing and off of my mind. The topic of “Wandering Mind” is a pensive selection from my journal. In summary, this post is best viewed as self probing psychobabble with no mystical value. What follows, I offer as prologue to the topic of mystical experience, which I hope to finally address in my next blog entry…

Wondering Why War with Wandering Will

Today was busily spent number crunching and reporting. Perhaps it’s the monotony of this type of work that sets my mind adrift so easily, but I suspect it was the lyrical melodies playing on KXT. As World Leader Pretend was played, the siren song set my mind adrift. When I was back to my senses I realized I was still progressing on the spreadsheet that had held my attention all morning. Although I hadn’t stopped entering numbers, my awareness of the act was completely suppressed. Being spirited away in a dreamlike state, my mind produced its own structure of thought seemingly contrary to my will. The results of this momentary distraction were surprisingly beneficial. It became apparent that during my wanderings, without effort, the answer to the root cause of my recent struggles with procrastination had occurred to me, even though I hadn’t spent any time thinking about the issue of procrastination this week.

Could it be that a wandering mind is not always a bad thing? What is it about that distinct state of mind that causes me to instantly shun it as counterproductive? Procrastination is just as off-putting yet it was during a state of wandering mind that I discovered a more effective way to prevent procrastination.

Upon reflection, I quickly realized that what I most despise about the state of my wandering mind is that it’s completely opposite of what I have determined to be superior. That being a self directed and focused assent in rational thought, which serves so well in the arena of business and the world at large. How could the mind, not directed by the will, be productive? Are my wandering thoughts directed by forces contrary to my will, other spirits?

To assume that the wandering mind is not driven by will is to err. I perceive the will, not active but present, is asserting itself more directly in the wandering mind than in the rational mind. The content of the wandering mind appears to be the semi-conscious musings of my own will. By slipping out of the depths of subconsciousness, suppressing the rational mind, and revealing its conclusions, the will has acted, and in a manner apparently superior to that of the rational mind.

I imagine the process of a wandering state of mind like that of a row boat gliding across water. In that brief instance between oar strokes when the boat glides effortlessly across vast depths, the process of wandering is in effect. It appears to me, usually in hindsight, that I have just traveled some distance from a place of awareness and without consent of will.    In reality, the boat has motion but not of itself. The boat’s movement is caused by the force of the oars, and the oars by that of the oarsman.

Conclusion

However inconvenient and unruly a wandering mind may be it is innate and somewhat beneficial. I suspect that a wandering mind is somehow more closely attached to the springhead of inspiration than direct will and rationality, but can it be directed? As the song goes…

“I have been given the freedom to do as I see fit
it’s high time I’ve razed the walls that I’ve constructed”

 

Pax Vobiscum
-C.M. Gregory

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10 Responses to Wandering Mind – Friend or Foe?

  1. Hello Gregory,

    Your reflections reminded me of a poem I liked years ago. It took awhile but I was able to find it. It’s called “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by W.B. Yeats.

    I’m not going to type it out here, but it’s about a man who decides to go fishing “because a fire was in my head”. In his mind the fish he catches turns into a beautiful “glimmering” girl. The girl fades away in the air, but she serves as a source of inspiration to him throughout the rest of his life. Even in his old age he hopes to find her again.

    There is some obvious Celtic mystical content in the poem, but for me it is his “fire in my head” that gets my attention. He never seems to be able to rid himself of it, nor does he want to.

    I also liked your image of the oarsmen. I sometimes wonder if I have all of my oars in the water!

    Steve

  2. SimpleMystic says:

    Good Morning C.M.,

    Thank you for sharing this thought with us.

    To answer your question Wandering Mind Friend or Foe?

    Yes! :)

    I hope you don’t mind but I was observing you yesterday during our spirited discussion on the heretic. I watched you sign in and sign out and I wondered if you would post something? I felt you contemplate what the most loving thing to do was. Thats a rare gift and I don’t really seem to have that gift in that particular way.

    No, my gifts are more about passion. Something I really got a big dose of. I love people and things, and food, and places and events and Life, and just stuff more than I am able to express in the physical, Ohhh but I try,I pay a steep price sometimes but I try and will continue It’s what I do.

    In my spiritual journey I have had and continue to have many mentors some more formal than others, two in particular stand out for this specific expression I am trying to make. I remember complaining to the second mentor about the first when first met.

    I remember saying , even though “so and so” had a real gift and really seemed to know what they were saying they turned out to be a real looser- pot- smoking- know- it- all. I remember the second mentor reminding me that they too were full of flaws but I didn’t want to hear all that at the time.

    Little did I know, it turned out mentor #2 was equally yet uniquely just as cracked as mentor #1. The big difference is mentor #2 would admit that regularly. Dad gum introverts are so sneaky and camouflaged with their internal little conversations going on where I have to blab everything LOL:).

    One thing I learned from both mentors was this, Love my Crack. Even if no one else in the whole world could. I must love my Crack and I must admit it was something they both had done, was learned to love their Crack as well.

    I Love my Crack and out of that Love makes more room for the love, tolerance, acceptance, non-judgement etc… of others “possible”.

    Long Live the Crack!

    “lay down the sword and put away the doctrine, Love a little more because everybody’s broken. ” -Nicole Nordeman

    In Love,
    simplemystic

    P.S. I am in no way saying the exact same thing as Steve.

    • C.M. Gregory says:

      I appreciate your passion and curiosity. I imagine that you also have a strong sense of self and resilient personality to boot. Although I don’t always have time to join each discussion, I still read every post and often find your point of view uniquely gifted, no matter how ambiguously stated.

      Judgment is a tricky issue, truly a double edged sword. Understanding the essence of judgment is wisdom. Thanks for the comment S.M.

  3. John L. says:

    C.M – Gregory:

    In faith, will, is clearly understood and experienced as a truly dualistic phenomenom. It is “our” will and it is God’s Will. It is “self” will (which in purgation is dying/ temporal) and God’s Will (the “Self” which is Unchanging/Eternal). All capitalization of words here intentionally represent the relationship/hierarchy and flow of communication. Since self “will” is the ultimate determining factor of how we guide our emotions & actions (or misguide them), there remains a continual tension between us and that which is Ultimate. Laying down this cornerstone provides the greatest insight into our “wandering” state of mind. Perhaps this seeming “wandering” is but a simple gateway to the tension of opposites….an opportunity if you will. Chasing down these “idle wanderings” and chirpings of the deep sub-consciousness (via prayer and meditation) quickly reveals longstanding motives and hidden intents of the self. Are these unresolvables, signalling us of their “unresolved” state. Perhaps….they are simply just amplified notifications of welcome from the Divine to release our attachments.

    If the flow of communication is Will to will…..what else could these wanderings mean?

    John

    • C.M. Gregory says:

      Hi John,

      Very insightful,

      “Perhaps….they are simply just amplified notifications of welcome from the Divine to release our attachments.”

      You really said a mouthful. Viewing states of consciousness as triggers rather than traps is a keen observation. Check back on 5-27. My goal is to have mystical aspect posted around that time. Thanks for commenting!

  4. tsetse22 says:

    Your discussion point indeed touches the essence of mysticism. Why think not?

    As we use our logic and engage towards worldly tasks, we are “of” it. When we disengage our minds into a free think and just drift, we are less of it and more just “in” it…similar in fact to dreaming and perhaps even akin to the kind of ‘hypnotic’ altered state in mystic ascension or our state of mind when truly communing with a higher power.

    Is that not, in part, a delineation between a temporal and ethereal existence?

    If our will is given us and we allow our minds to simply flow do we not surrender a degree of that will? I think yes, therefore a belief and foundation of spirituality guards our better essence as creatures beyond the mortal coil as we are susceptible to the winds of an amoral universe and immoral world while we are in such a state (wandering mind).

    Love your blogs, btw, and just wanted to add my two cents !

    • C.M. Gregory says:

      I understand your point and hope to be more inclusive of that idea in my next blog post. The reason I stated “no mystical value” in the beginning was an attempt to dissuade readers from prematurely drawing conclusions based on this single state of consciousness. Perhaps my views on mysticism are convoluted, but to me this one aspect is only the tip of the iceberg. More importantly, mysticism has no value to me if it does not enhance my faith in Christianity. In this article I did not articulate my beliefs in Christ thus the statement “self probing psychobabble.” I appreciate your feedback and hope you check back for the next installment.

  5. tsetse22 says:

    Re: Free-think in terms of Mystery and mystic..

    Sir, my wandering mind bears much fruit that I haven’t tasted. The mind, in dreams daydreams, near 3rd person words and constructs running through like a rock falling of a mountain, a shear force of nature, it usually yields more questions than it states what’s true or gives answers.
    For example, without thinking, I am thinking is a mystery and a truth mutually exclusive concepts? Can one not contain another? If dots cannot be connected and empirical evidence isn’t demonstrated in theories like The Butterfly Effect, the Dual Slit experiment, or how something like sexual immorality can ruin a society, then they can arguably be false ideas. But they aren’t…they are mysteries. Knowing the answer may help viewpoints on the largest mysteries like the existence of God and our eternal souls. It seems to me that the wandering mind mirrors two aspects of my question regarding the relationship truth and mystery. First, that untethered thoughts are consistent in with simply having an existences and being within a universe, and secondly are themselves what make our subjective reality as sentient beings. We can’t stop thinking and we can’t ‘work’ our thoughts 24/7. So can the dropping of structured logic and esoteric free thinking still define something true? Yes it can. Not unlike the
    missing connections in a mystery that is true.

    In terms of faith, the question reminds me of a devotional I read about just sitting and feeling God’s presence verses being in conscious active prayer.

    …”I think, therefore I am” falls short of explaining that ~ What we think defines who we are, even when we think without purpose.

  6. C.M. Gregory says:

    Received this comment via email….

    Hello,
    I came upon this blog post of yours today and wanted to comment but couldn’t see how. Perhaps you are only taking comments on your forum now.

    This article interested me because of the idea that it is the moment when we are gliding (not rowing) from whence inspiration gesticulates. And I loved this line in particular:

    “I quickly realized that what I most despise about the state of my wandering mind is that it’s completely opposite of what I have determined to be superior.”

    I feel that pride in my efforts and assume I need to try and try and try again, when really it is in the NOT trying, the surrender, that the magic takes place.

    Thanks for the thoughtful piece.
    Rebecca

    ————————————–

    Thanks Rebecca,

    My posts are configured to accept comments for 14 days. Normally I find that is plenty of time for comments and if there is a discussion to be had I would much rather have it opened in the forums, which are in real time…

    You nailed it with one word “surrender!” Thanks for the comment.

    Pax Vobiscum
    C.M.Gregory

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