What Keeps Us from Meditation? The Four Lassos of the Mind

The very moment we begin to bring a new practice or discipline into our life, like meditation or a healthy daily routine, our heart rejoices but our mind feels threatened.

The very nature of the mind is to be free and undisciplined, and an undisciplined mind subjects us to its excessive cleverness. Although part of us knows what is good for our well-being, through excessive cleverness we end up deceiving ourselves.

A threatened mind uses four lassos, its trusted methods of excessive cleverness, to stay in control: saam, daam, dand and bhed.

Saam: Denial of the importance of our new practice. After we decide to bring a new discipline into our life, when we are ready to get started, the mind throws its first lasso. “It’s not a big deal.”  “I am not ready for this yet – I can start it tomorrow.” An undisciplined mind will always try to procrastinate on starting by denying the importance of the new practice.

If we can escape this first lasso with the help of enthusiasm, discipline, fear or guilt, the second lasso will be thrown at us:

Daam. A better option. Mind does not care what we do as long as we do not act in a disciplined way and proceed with our new practice.  “Oh, I can meditate later.  Right now, I should ____ [sleep, wash the dishes, text my friend, go for a walk, write a blog post, etc.].” Remember, the mind’s main goal is that we do not start the new practice that we set out to do.

If we are able to ignore the second lasso, then the third lasso will be flung at us:

Dand: Instilling fear or suggesting that something bad might happen.  The mind will come up with thoughts like, “Did I leave the stove on?”, “I need to respond to that text now or else she’ll be worried,” “Sitting like this is not good for my back.” There are so many variations of fear that can come into the mind to try to distract us from our practice.

If we are able to overcome these three tactics of the mind and bring a new healthy practice into our life, there is one final lasso to come.  This lasso is the most dangerous, because often it comes after we are established in practicing meditating or following a healthy daily routine.

Bhed:  Separation. Even after years of practice, the mind may try to dissuade us from the path we have started on, by suggesting:  “This is not doing anything for me,”  “I am different,” “I am a ____ [Saggitarius, Number 8, Pitta/Kapha, Extrovert],“ “I am too old for this,” “This works for other people, but not me.” Those who fall prey to this final lasso become deprived of their growth and never move past the place where they had begun their journey.

When bringing any new discipline into our life, we must be aware of these four trusted methods of excessive cleverness that are used by our mind.  With awareness, we can recognize the thoughts that come for what they are and remain focused on nurturing our new practice.

By maintaining a regular practice, our mind becomes disciplined and satisfied, and then becomes friends with our heart.  With mind and heart aligned, the journey of our life becomes very meaningful and nothing remains impossible.

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