When a frustrated student asked how to contend with his mind, whose meanderings had undermined his attempt at meditation for three hours straight, the teacher replied, sternly, “What your mind does is not your business!” *
The guidance was simple: let the mind do what it wants; place your attention on your breathing. You are not responsible for your thoughts; they have a mind of their own. However, you are responsible for where you place your attention. Hence, every time you notice your attention drawn to a thought, gently return your attention to your breath.
The fact is, we are of two minds: the mind that generates the thoughts and the mind that decides where to place its attention. Don Juan Matus explained it like this: “Everyone of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, and is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose. The other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self assertion, doubts, hopelessness.” **
Our meditation student was being coached to develop his true mind’s ability to place its attention on the breath, to withdraw its attention from the thoughts generated by the foreign installation, the mind that is truly not “his business.”
The objective of meditation, as well as the shamanic practices of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, is to free the true mind from the dominance of the thought-story dramas produced by the foreign installation that, like the true reality portrayed in the movie The Matrix, steals our vital energy for its own sustenance.
However, the battle to free the true mind must be carried out with utter gentleness lest it be caught in the clutches of a foreign installation trap that absolutely thrives on inner conflict. The foreign installation mind catches us by feeling offended, inadequate, inappropriate, unworthy, unloved and unlovable, etc., all the myriad of ways the self has failed or been failed by others. There is no end to the stories generated by the foreign installation to trap our attention and feed off the energy of our ensuing inner conflict, as we sit captivated and live through the intense thought-story drama generated for our entertainment and attachment.
The foreign installation mind cannot be fought directly. The wisdom of the guidance—that this mind is not your business—is the freedom to not worry about it or pay any attention to the fact that it exists. It’s not about trying to control or change it either. It’s simply about taking attention away from it and placing it where we choose.
In the shaman’s world, it is this behavior—the refusal to engage in the dramas of self-importance generated by the foreign installation—that ultimately frees the self from the dominance of the foreign installation.
Simply put, when we don’t attach to the dramas of self-importance, our energy is withdrawn from the predator’s grasp, that is, the foreign installation that feasts upon our frantic energetic reaction to its thought-story dramas.
This is the true meaning of mindful detachment, as we learn to place our attention on being fully present, freed of attachment to the dramas that generate inner conflict, the product of the foreign installation mind. “Your” mind is not your business, but where you place your attention IS your business.
Fully repossess your own mind. Do it calmly, with no judgment as to the number of times your attention is drawn to the wares of the foreign installation. That mind will continue to carry out its business, while you simply begin to more fully realize that you don’t have to shop there any more. Eventually, that merchant will move on, as you refuse to fund it with your vital energy.
Have no attachment to how long or short it takes; focus on placing your attention calmly where you want it. It’s as simple as that!
Freeing the mind,
* Excerpt from: Journey of Insight Meditation by Eric Lerner, p. 80
** Excerpt from: The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Castaneda, p. 7