The mind watcher
In this talk, brain and mind form a single entity. Using a computer as analogy the brain is the hardware and the mind the software until science will prove otherwise.
Brain-mind is a biocomputer in which the electrical current is made of ions.
In the following, I will use only the word mind.
From functional neuroimaging, it is estimated that our mind produces non-stop between 40,000 to 100,000 thoughts/ day while awake, maybe more. (Dept. of Neurophysiology Queens Univ. Dr. Jordan Popperk)
It is also estimated that a very small fraction of this huge output is useful that is producing cognitive analysis including judgment and decision-making.
Beside this cognitive function, our thoughts are an ongoing background audiotape that we are not actively aware of, simply because it is impossible to be aware of 5 to 6 thoughts every min. of the day It is like having the radio on without listening.
When we do something, somewhere, our mind is wandering elsewhere, doing something else.
This is more obvious when we do routine stuff in an automatic behavior.
Zen calls that “day sleepwalker” during which our mind is 100% in control w/o you being conscious of it.
The main purpose of mindfulness practice is to be in control of our mind rather than the opposite.
How does it work?
More than 6,000 years ago, some very smart people realized that we cannot have 2 thoughts at the same time despite the fact that, now, we know to have around 100 billions neurons.
Besides controlling our material body our mental activity is 1 thought at a time like the computer 1-0 processing but we can have many on the row.
To be mindful is to focus w/o cognitive process, judgment nor decision-making.
In this type of attention we are simply observing a single object X as it is.
This is pure awareness. By focusing consciously on X such as breathing, we force our mind to do only one task that is focusing on one target X. Mindfulness becomes a circuit breaker or a pause button.
Our mind has no choice but to obey by slowing down its flow of thoughts allowing us to watch it.
Also, because mindfulness practice is devoted to any cognitive process, it allows us to watch when our mind decides to take over and wander again, away from its focusing point.
Being a mind watcher, you are in control of this back and forth mental activity made of a focusing point such as breathing and wandering.
It is a cat-and-mouse mental game: you against your mind and your mind against you.
You can also watch your mind outside formal meditation.
For example by being mindful and experiencing one of your 5 senses: seeing, hearing, etc....
In fact, any routine activity such as walking, eating, showering can be a pretext to use mindfulness as a tool to watch your mind. The more you practice, the better the watcher becomes.
Learning to watch thoughts and emotions is the first step to control our mind, at least temporally.