#83 – How Meditation Changes Thought Patterns
Thought control is essential to a meaningful and productive life. Without it, we would daydream for hours and be in endless trouble from acting on fleeting irrational thoughts, such as “I should tell off the boss.” But because the brain is so complex, both adults and children often have difficulty focusing their attention on only one task or person. With the help of meditation, however, people can learn to better control their thought processes and improve their concentration.
The brain continuously processes information it receives from the eyes, ears and other sensory organs. For example, if you hear a vehicle drive by while you’re typing a document on the computer, your brain registers the sound of the engine and connects it to your memory for identification. Recognition of the sound source lets your mind and body know that you are safe to continue working, but then, before you know it, you’re thinking about a past experience related to vehicles instead of the task at hand.
Random thoughts and memories contribute to these lapses in concentration, too, especially when they trigger or are associated with a strong emotion. It is in these instances that an inability to control thought is likely to lead to poor decision making.
For example, a man is shopping with his girlfriend, and when she runs into a male friend of hers and starts talking to him, the man remembers the day that he discovered his now ex-wife was having an affair. As he continues to think about it, he becomes angry and wonders if his girlfriend will have an affair too. He grabs her arm and says it’s time to leave, thus interrupting her conversation and upsetting her without sound reason.
Imagine your train of thought as a vehicle on the open highway. Exits are all around you, but if you follow each one that appears, you will be late to your destination—if you ever reach it, that is. Meditation allows you to control the direction of your thought processes, including those that create negative emotional responses.
As you focus during meditation, your mind finds a quiet place wherein you can concentrate in spite of random thoughts. This brings a sense of serenity that you would not consciously experience on the outside world; however, you can learn to induce the meditative state in your everyday life. Once you develop a tendency to focus on the present and on your inner stillness, you’re better equipped to essentially ignore the random thoughts that would normally interrupt you.
Your mind can bend and change direction at your will, but it will steer itself unless you take control of it. Not only does meditation provide you with this control, it helps you focus on solutions, positivity, and the accomplishment of your present and future goals.
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