Someone asked about learning meditation because “I feel that my thoughts are ‘running away’ with themselves, and I would like to explore ways to calm my thoughts and mind.” Suffering is often what brings people to meditation initially and we look for antidotes to the mental anguish we feel. We grasp at anything that will make the pain and discomfort go away.
We try mindfulness meditation and often discover the peace and calm we seek eludes us. Instead, our experience is more like “being locked up with a lunatic in a closet” (as a friend of mine describes it). We succumb to doubt regarding the teachings and the practice (one of the five hindrances). But those of us who persist in the effort to be mindful will eventually develop insight regarding the original problem of runaway thoughts, aka “monkey mind.”
With time and effort, we realize that our problem is the aversion to conditions as they are combined with clinging to the notion that things should be different. OK, so the mind is full of jumbled thoughts. Armed with mindfulness, I acknowledge the situation is as it is. I see that the problem is not the runaway thoughts, but the clinging and the identification with them as me or mine.
Thoughts are arising mental formations that I can pick up…. or not.