with wild chatter in meditation makes
maintaining mindfulness much easier to
Beyond emotions you meet discursive thoughts or
wildness. Discursiveness is the chatter that constantly
clutters our minds, the routine mental buzz. Its
made of random, non-associated thoughts as opposed
to drawn-out story lines.
This ordinary discursiveness is like a low-level
hum that obscures your natural clarity. As we meditate,
you can bounce back and forth in your mind about
what's going on at school or work, conversations
you had—or would like to have—plans
for the rest of the day, and yet still be aware
that you're meditating. You might surface from
such an excursion into the past and future by returning
to the breath, but then the movement of your mind
invites you to wander off again.
like flipping through
You might experience
it as the nagging desire
to scratch our nose
or as wondering how
many minutes before
our session's over.
Have you experienced this in meditation?
Do you have favorite channels you
Do you notice the deadening effect
discursiveness has? Have you found
yourself at the end of twenty minutes
of meditation thinking, "What
You might be tempted to be loose
in trying to control discursiveness.
However, it's essential to repeatedly
place your mind on the breath. Recognize
the thought, acknowledge it, let
it dissolve, return to the breath.
This breaks up the river of discursiveness.
Don't think about what kind of thought
you're having—just see it for
what it is, and place mind elsewhere.
Experiencing the mind's movement
at this level is much of our training
The precision with which you work with discursiveness
brings you to the innermost circle of peaceful
abiding. Here you are aware of very subtle thoughts
arising in your stillness.
like standing next to an iced-over mountain
stream; we hear water popping up in tiny bubbles.
The thoughts come through like whispers. In our
steady mindfulness of the breath, a little voice
breaks through, "Am I doing this right? I
feel chilly." Even though the surface is still
there is an ongoing flow of water gurgling beneath.
We call these "subtle thoughts."
Staying focused on the breath, just let these
subtle thoughts arise and fall; they will naturally
dissolve. Indulging these subtle movements by giving
them any attention at all tends to strengthen them
and will actually create disturbance in your mind
You will have to deal with them at some point.
But in the early stages of shamatha, you're building
another kind of strength by relaxing into the breathing.
allowing the natural stillness of the mind to develop.
Continually placing your mind on the breath decreases
the movement of thoughts, which further calms the
mind. Experiencing the stability and joy of your
mind becomes much more appealing than listening
to mental chatter.