Movements on the blank canvas of mind

words by Brian Thompson, photo by Jennifer Picard Photography.

Can you see your mind move with your inner eye?

Close your eyes for a moment and be still. Can you see how mind is always flitting about, jumping from one thing to the next? Grabbing at this, letting go of that; believing in this, imagining that; desiring this, fearing that—all the while, completely forgetting whatever isn’t presently within its focus of awareness.

These are the movements of consciousness, and they are continuous. Even as we sleep, consciousness dreams. It’s only in deep sleep that mind becomes still, which is precisely why this is also our most relaxed, restorative and peaceful state—one that many would even say is blissful. Bereft of mind, we abide in true happiness.

While our movements of mind certainly appear to be alive and real, we must remind ourselves that everything within consciousness is nothing more than a mental idea that has only taken the appearance of form. All thought is an illusion, formless and empty of a reality independent from mind.

A movement is a progression from one thing to the next, and such is the nature of consciousness, always searching for something new to focus its attention onto, such as the meaning of things, and the reason for why this is, and why that isn’t.

We become accustomed to its constant movement as our experience has never been anything other than this. And so, we begin to take it for granted. We gloss over the truth that its apparitions veil.

We must be mindful that all movements of consciousness are conceptual only.

They are a dramatization of reality—projected directly onto the screen of your mind—an exclusive and personal showing for you and you alone. They privately whisper their untold secrets into your inner ear, tempting you into believing the stories and conclusions they create.

When we believe in one of these illusions however, it then becomes a delusion—and delusions do nothing but drown us is in a sea of ignorance, causing us to needlessly suffer from that which is inherently unreal.

Beware the movements of mind.

They are false reflections, not unlike a two-dimensional character walking across a television screen. Its appearance is virtual only—nothing but an illusion.

Here’s a simple practice to help realize the truth:

The next time you feel the presence of a fear welling up inside you, tightening your chest, see if you can detect the movements of consciousness that were responsible for this contraction. Can you trace their path? Can you spot the original random thought that started it all? Can you see how this subtle thought was at first recognized, then considered, debated, and then believed?

Be the witness to these movements of mind—when watched, they bely their false reality, exposing any belief in them to be nothing but a simple misperception. Great stories are convincing, and our imagination creates these wonders of fiction each and every day.

The mind’s drama is certainly entertaining—as long as we don’t take its commentary to be real.

Watch the behaviour of your thoughts. Learn their habits, and observe how they either accept or reject whatever they perceive. Notice the labels they attach onto the world around them—defining, dismissing, judging, separating, and limiting everything they become aware of.

The truth becomes obscured by the mind’s discernment. Reality becomes hazy.

Catch your consciousness red-handed—and laugh! Watch as it tries to divert your attention away from the perfection of the present moment; watch as it tries to tempt you into believing its delusions, unquestioned.

Realize each thought for the dream it is—a dramatic movement on the blank canvas of mind—untruth in action.