When we meditate we’re not tying to force the mind into silence. You can think of the mind and thoughts as a wild horse. Whilst tying the horse’s legs together will stop it running wild, it is useless as a way to benefit from the horse’s energy and power and is cruel. Instead when a wild horse is being broken in it is surrounded by a strong fence creating a space where it is free to run. One traditional way to then break in a horse is to have a rope tied to the horse and the other end attached to a stake in the ground. As the horse runs it slowly is wound around the post until it comes to a point where it has to walk around the post and a rider can mount it.
In the same way as we meditate we want the mind to have its power, but not run wild. We create a strong fence to hold the mind within by establishing a formal period of meditation time that we will sit for. The meditation session holds the busyness of the mind and allows us to sit and watch it as it runs around.
The breath is the stake in the ground and the rope is our ability to keep bringing our attention back to the breath. By staying present to the sensations of the breath we keep our mind steady. We notice thoughts without becoming the thought. We feel emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them.
I shared this metaphor in the introduction to one of the morning YouTube guided meditations last week and one participant found it really helpful as a way to work with the practice. Recognising that he would not tame the wild horse of his mind simply by an act of will, but that it needs the right container and sustained effort slowly to bring about this change.
In your own practice, see how it works to keep this regular and sustained effort to bring about a change in how your mind works, direct where your attention goes and see clearly how your emotions play out within you.