Subdue the distracted mind

– Extract of a Dhamma talk by Sis. Buddhini Tan

Being mindful and staying in the present moment is a cornerstone of Buddhist practice. Yet, we frequently find the mind wandering off due to external stimuli of all kinds and proliferation of thoughts. This inability to focus results in a mind that is not calm, serene and concentrated. The distracted mind also drains our energy level and hinders our spiritual progress.

In order to subdue these straying thoughts, we endeavour to constantly see whether our attention is present or absent, and also note the quality of our attention. Ask ourselves, “Do we know what we are doing now?”, and then keep anchoring the mind back to our intended activity, without frustration and judgement. If unwholesome thoughts arise, tackle them in ways taught by the Buddha – replace it, see its danger, pay no attention to it, still its formation and, if all else fails, crush it with the will of the mind.

Often our mind wanders due to our own procrastination or unfinished work, all of which can be remedied by re-prioritisation. We must also recognise that if we think excessively about things which we cannot control, we need to accept our limited influence and let it go. With diligence, we enable the mind to gain energy by taking away the strain of avoidable burdens, to create a conducive state for its noble development towards peace and joy.