Our mind is webbed, that is why we are so caught up sometimes
Whenever I suggested my clients to practice mindfulness in every day life, they sometimes told me that it is very difficult for them to stay focus to be mindful to their present. They are usually easily being caught up with their busy mind. For instance, a lady who had gone through grief for the passing away of her husband finally started another relationship. During dating with her boyfriend, she passed a park where she used to have frequent walks with her late husband. At first, she did not realise it was that park she used to hang out with her husband, she only felt very happy for her dating with her boyfriend in the neighbourhood. When she noticed a beautiful flower in a tree inside the park, she suddenly recalled she had seen this kind of flowers before when having a walk with her husband. Then she started to recall a specific conversation she had with her husband about buying some new plants for their home. She even started to recall the time when she was doing gardening with her husband in their balcony. This is the power of our webbed mind. During this process in her mind, this lady cried and felt mixed feelings about the decease of her husband and her mood still being affected by her grief. She felt helpless for being unable to step out from her rumination relating to her late husband.
Despite this ruminative tendency of our mind, our tendency to associate is functional in our daily life. For example, we need to have this web in our mind for us to enjoy detective novels for deducing and analyzing throughout our reading. In fact, this relational web in our mind is the way we learn in our every day life. It is crucial for us to learn more complex knowledge and making sense of the complications of abstract concepts in this world. This is also why we can learn from our mistakes and refine our strategies in what we do. This ability is even more developed when we were getting older. This is why young children can be more mindful and observe something adults might miss in simple daily activities. It is because their webs in the mind are still not densely developed. These children still have the space in their mind to observe and be mindful about their surroundings and the situations happening to them.
Given the functional aspect of our mind webs, we may tend to overuse them and being caught up by their ongoing association and entanglement. If the lady above started to ruminate about her grief reactions, she may start to engage in self-criticism and think she is such a failure for being so caught up. She may even think her boyfriend may dislike her and will plan to separate with her soon. If this is the case, how can we use our mind web productively and avoid overusing it to unproductive ruminations? We need to learn to detach from it when we are being aware of our entanglement. First of all, regular mindfulness practice is useful for us to be more self-aware of our unproductive ruminations. When we are being able to aware of our mind web, we can try to detach from it by neutralizing the factfulness of these thoughts. We may tell ourselves that thoughts are only thoughts, thoughts are not facts.
We need to learn to disentangle from our mind web when necessary. It is because struggling to argue with our association and analysis when we are so caught up is not useful. After all, our mind web is a double-edged sword.