Renowned hypnotherapist Joseph Pond on how to train your wandering mind and be calm
Still, he couldn’t sit up, run, or talk. In fact, by any measurable standard of success and excellence, Ofsted would certainly have given him a low score.
And yet, he couldn’t do anything wrong either. He was — and is — perfect.
This is difficult for beginning practitioners of mindfulness to accept sometimes, since it seems so difficult to quiet the mind.
“I must be doing something wrong, because my thoughts are all over the place,” people sometimes say to me.
This is where equanimity comes in. Equanimity is a key concept in mindfulness that has the power to transform your life.
Equanimity means calmness, kind benevolence and non-judgemental. I explain to my clients that the human mind is always going to be active. While meditating, your brain will make noise. After all, having thoughts and feelings simply means that you are alive. The key is to calmly accept that the mind wanders. Your job is to not feed the emotions that arise while practicing mindfulness. Equanimity is like a big sign at the zoo, saying: “Don’t feed the monkeys.”
Neither identify with your thoughts, nor judge them. When you realise that you have boarded a train of thought, just bring your attention back to the breath with equanimity.
In fact, the difference between us and a mindfulness master is not that the master’s mind doesn’t wander, it’s the degree of equanimity with which one allows thoughts to ebb and flow.
Eventually, you’ll develop an impartial “observer” which is separate from one’s mental meanderings. This observer will notice that the mind tends to run in habitual grooves and that certain feelings, thoughts and ideas keep recurring as a mostly unconscious pattern that makes you, “you”.
Hypnotists call this dual awareness “conscious-unconscious dissociation”. The ability to consciously focus on unconscious processes is one of the many, many points of similarity between mindfulness and hypnosis. Applying equanimity to your daily practice strengthens the equanimity “muscle”, thus making it easier to use when you need it. As a side benefit to doing mindfulness, you might just find yourself becoming less sad or angry, and more calm and non-judgemental in general.
So, take it easy on your wandering mind. Like a child, it can’t really do anything wrong.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and sits on the National Board of NLP and Hypnotherapy. Reach him at email@example.com