It is necessary that we are able to separate ourselves from these consuming thought patterns if we wish to be able to apply understanding and insight when we need to the most. But this is tricky, how do we correct something we seemingly have no control over. This is where one of the major aspects and benefits of meditation comes in.
Let’s consider what is happening outside the meditation practice before I get back to that. All day, every day we are bombarded by millions upon millions of thoughts. Many of these thoughts have serious emotional association, this has been said to be the reason these thoughts, or ‘modified memories’ have re-presented themselves within your awareness, because either you want more of it (craving) or you want less of it (aversion) and thus is the root of your motivation. We then proceed to give these thoughts mental energy through our focusing on them, feeding them, feeling them, reinforcing the neural pathways and making their imprint on us that much deeper. Sometimes we even go as far as acting upon these thoughts as a result of the motivation we have now mustered, in craving, or aversion. In this way we are shaping the way we think by giving our stressors, desires and fears a stronger foothold within our minds.
This changes when we sit down for meditation, simply through the mechanism of constantly bring our attention, our focus, our mental energy back to some particular point. Be it the breathe, a visualisation or a mantra. Each time a distraction shows up, we have to find a way, learn how to equanimously let go of it and return to our focal point. It matters not how much we crave or avert the thought, we need to develop our ability to remain, or at least return to an undisturbed, focused state. Our competence at achieving this improves with each and every little victory, we just need to clock up the victories as we are millions upon millions behind. As our competence improves then the lag time between the beginning of distraction until the time we let go of it shortens. A point will then come when thoughts that used to be so disturbing, have no hold on you and this is simply from you starving so many of your cravings and aversions of their energy, your mental energy, the fire that was fuelling them all along.
With the clarity and control that follows this you will then be able to apply all that you know. You will come closer to seeing things as they actually are without your excited emotional mental state polluting your view.
It is not a matter of choice as it should be clear that we have very little control over which thought structures we feed everyday and so have to use this valuable tool to empower our ‘self’ over our ‘mind’.