Beware the Sticky Mind

When I wake up after a strange dream or particularly restless night, thoughts come gushing out of me in the morning. On the one hand, this might make for multiple writing ideas, but on the other, it makes me incredibly slow.

Between exercise sets, I might sit there for five minutes and brood over my bank raising prices yet again. Before meditating, I may draft an entire response to an email in my head only to send a totally different one hours later. In other words, because I have so many differing thoughts, I get hung up on some of them. My mind is “sticky,” as Bruce Lee called it:

“Do not let the mind be grasping or sticky. Don’t look at ‘what is’ from the position of thinking what should be. It is not to be without emotion or feeling but to be one in whom feeling is not sticky or blocked.” A non-sticky mind is “immune to emotional influences,” Bruce said. Like in a river, “everything is, flowing on ceaselessly without cessation or standing still.”

When a baby feels excess air in its system, it lets out a burp or a fart. We think it’s cute and pat it on the back. “Well done!” we even say. As adults, we’ve learned to suppress our bodily winds, be it for politeness sake or, more often, to avoid public embarrassment. But sooner or later, the air needs to come out — and so do our thoughts and feelings.

When I remember Bruce’s words while barreling down a distracting train of thought, I tell myself: “I’m a human being, and these thoughts are just passing through.” That makes it easier to let them go, and then both the thoughts and I can be on our way.

Beware the sticky mind. You are not your thoughts, and, often, the best thing you can do is wave them right on through.