My teacher Suryacitta helps students understand the nature of thoughts through the clicky pen analogy!
Imagine a ball point pen that has a clicky end that allows the nib to be in when not being used and out when required for writing.
This pen is a wonderful tool designed for writing. When you have finished writing with it, you click it and the nib goes in and you put it down to rest until you need it again. This is using it as it was meant to be used for, as a tool which is good for a particular purpose.
Suppose you have finished writing a letter and you click the end but the nib doesn’t go in and you find your pen won’t stop writing. It just carries on writing a load of rubbish. No matter how much you want it to stop writing, it won’t. Even when you want to go to sleep this pen carries on writing. This continues day after day. It begins to be exhausting.
The thinking mind is like the pen. It is an excellent tool, one we could not live without. It is excellent for working some things out, for planning, analysing and for problem solving. It is a miracle of nature. But we don’t know how to use it.
We have lost the art of using the tool of the thinking mind for the purpose it was intended for. We don’t need the thinking mind when we are walking down the street, having a shower, appreciating a tree or the ocean. We don’t need it to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or to go to sleep. We have come to over rely on this one magnificent tool to try to solve all our problems. Think.. think.. think.. that’s what we are now wired to do.
Mindfulness practice can help us loosen our attachment to thoughts, we learn to use our mind more wisely. We can use it when we need it, we don’t let it chatter away all day long with judgements and opinions that we are better off without.