Mind Chatter & The Watchful Observer

by meditative - November 29th, 2015

Mind Chatter or Monkey Mind as it is often referred is the constant droning of thoughts that seem to run continuously in the back of our minds, all day, every day, without respite. Some experts refer to this process as sub-vocalization. For some, this background “noise” is unnoticeable. For others it is a constant source of irritation and distraction- both on & off the cushion. At times, these thoughts, judgments, perceptions, and personal storylines can torment us and cause a great deal of suffering as we over-identify and become consumed by their overriding presence. When out of control, our mind chatter can leave us in a state of bewilderment. More often than not, our streams of thought are emotionally charged and conditioned from a long pattern of reinforcement and affirmation. Mind chatter also serves as protection to our ego and self-identity as we stay tethered to what is comfortable and walled from what is feared- whether real or perceived.

If we think long and hard enough whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s amazing what we may inevitably become, and how our environment and relationships can be shaped by the ‘projective’ undercurrent of this mind chatter. Whether we are aware of it or not, this process carries and conveys the energy to move and shape our inner and outer lives.

Part of why we ‘sit’… is to bring these unconscious activities of the mind into the field of our conscious awareness so that we may work with them. In essence, the meditation practice is making the unconscious… conscious.

Our practice in meditation and mindfulness can help to guide us in taming and controlling this mind chatter, first through concentration and contemplation, and then by releasing it for the sake of sustaining clarity and inspiration. What most people have trouble understanding is that mind chatter cannot be controlled by an intellectual process. It knows us better than we know ourselves. However,what mind chatter does not like, is to be watched. We can diffuse its persistence and its virulence when we stop feeding it, and simply start watching or observing it as the watchful observer or witness.

Intention, attitude, attention, and discipline are all important to regulating mind chatter. To simply sit and observe as we have previously discussed is not as easy as it sounds. Once the spaces of silence between the thoughts are recognized, the intellect fumbles, an influx occurs, and inspiration and intuition begins to flow more freely as we disconnect from our inherent tendency for automaticity and the reactionary cycle that follows.

Observing mind chatter can be the beginning of a transformative process that has the capacity to settle, balance, and stabilize both our state of mind and being. As we continue to relax and observe, there arises more clarity and less chatter. With a quiet mind, we also open ‘space’ and conserve vital energy calming an overactive physiology, and thereby creating a sequence of physiological and biochemical changes that can provide additional benefit in improving our physical health and well-being.