Does a wandering mind exile us from ourselves?
We often fall into the habit of continuing to think about a troublesome issue, some aspect of our future projects that bothers us or a recent example of our behavior that we don’t like. We rarely place our attention on what is happening in the present moment. Think back to a few recent instances to see if this is also customary in your life.
How do you drive when you are traveling familiar routes?
What do you do when you walk alone?
Can you control your thoughts when they reveal themselves?
The circumstances in which we allow ourselves to be carried away by our thoughts are many and varied. This experience takes on the character of a wandering mind when the thought repeats itself constantly.
I have had the experience, various times, of resolving a professional problem that had worried me for days only by abandoning it, devoting a short time to another subject that distracted me, and returning to the problem once again.
I have also had the experience, fortunately in far fewer cases, of feeling severely dispirited by a repeated future projection generated by my uncontrolled wandering thoughts regarding some insignificant present circumstance.
The examples mentioned in the previous paragraph clearly demonstrate that, when we are not attentive to our present experience, we live “unreal realities”. The freedom to choose our next step can be enjoyed only when we are attentive to the present step. Our mind imprisons itself when it falls into a state of repetitive or wandering thought. This circumstance is not so different from the sensation produced by the “brainwashing” of political rallies, religious speeches and commercial advertising. We have lost the freedom to think and act when we do not check in with ourselves. We act on the thoughts of others. We are exiled from ourselves.