My meditation path requires the watching of the mind. I watch the mind, sometimes trying to control what my mind is doing; but always trying to learn and understand how it works. In Dzogchen Practice, I often can see the thoughts arise in the mind and then one of two things happen. The thought sticks to me; ie I take the thought and churn it around, creating layers of stories, fears, hopes, anxieties, pleasures.... and on and on. Or, the thought arises, it's noted, and then is goes back where it came from; without any grabbing or attaching to it. We call this in Dgzochen the liberation of thoughts. Ideally, the throughts are liberated on their own and we don't put any effort even in letting the thoughts go. And for most, this process is not observed; it just happens and we don't notice. But in my practice, I watch this process unfold.
So this practice was put to the test for me recently at the bakery. A few weeks ago our main mixer quit. We had another mixer who was in training and he quickly took over the mixing and was going a great job. He committed to working full time but he told me he applied to a film school in New York and, if he got in which was unlikely, he would be moving to NYC in September. So two days ago he called me and said he got in. Great for him; not so great for the bakery; and a big problem is dropped on my lap.
So the mind exploded with activity when I got the news. All sorts of emotionally charged thoughts came in from blaming, anger, hopes for opportunity in the crises, etc. But I was able from time to time to notice what mind was doing. I saw the thoughts I was grabbing onto; the worries and the fears about what could happen. The non-stop planning for this contingency or that contingency; all perfectly normal mind activity in this situation; but most of the activity is quite non-productive and comes with all sorts of side-affects like anxiety, sleeplessness, fear.
So I'm watching this whole process unfold with the aid of my Dgzochen practice. I can clear my mind of thoughts, like a nuclear bomb that destroys everything. In one moment, I can clear it all away. I can see myself grabbing onto the thoughts; some thoughts so compelling and tenacious that I just can't help myself but to go with the thought until it exhausts itself. But by noticing what his happening and interesting thing happens. The thoughts don't stay long. I can see more clearly what thoughts are just busy chatter that I can just let go.
I still get caught up in some thoughts; but more often I am noticing and letting them go. This is the Dgzochen practice; not just when sitting on a cushion; but all the time; whenever I can notice.
I still have the problem to deal with; but my mind is functioning much more efficiently. And I am deepening the practice with each hardship or pleasure that comes along. For the same process happens when good things happen. Latching onto the pleasures is even more compelling; for taking in the great pleasures in life without grasping and trying to enlong the experience and hold is the most challenging of all.
So I did still worry about my staffing problem for a night; but the next morning I got up and decided to ride it out without worrying and without panic. But the problem is still here and needs to be solved.
And the truely wonderful gift of the Dgzochen Practice is that each hardship and pleasure; all life's experiences is an opportunity to deepen the practice; to learn more about how my mind works. And to experiences ever more deeply that underlying "thing" that is uncreated, unspoiled, and unchanging. How marvelous it is to have been given this gift.