We can’t control the content that enters into our thoughts, but we can select which items we ignore or focus on. A disciplined mind, is one that recognizes and evaluates each thought. Is this a disturbing thought? Ignore. Is this a pleasing thought? Continue. A disciplined mind diligently observes and filters the thought-stream that flows through the mind.
The practice of meditation is an effective method of learning to monitor and ignore thoughts. Over and over, within the head, simply focus on one thing, such as the breath or a word, and when focus is lost to a daydream, return to the object of focus. When we’re used to observing our thoughts, we can witness their effects on our mood and determine which are not worthy of notice.
Because we don’t determine which ideas enter into our mind, our primary method of control is as a gatekeeper. Some thoughts will persistently push their way through, but we must ceaselessly identify and dismiss them. And some pleasant thoughts will linger at the gate, shy and reserved, but we can notice and welcome them in.
Our lives are told as a narrative within the mind. Through our attention and interpretation, we influence this story. And through practice, we gain in our ability to recognize and free ourselves from turbulent thought streams. Oftentimes shallow, we simply need see it and stand up. Other times, secure in our skill, we swim to shore.