I recently did a five-day study retreat with Culadasa, author of The Mind Illuminated. His very specific meditation instructions reflect his former career as a neuroscientist.
He points out that the five sense doors—seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting—do not communicate with each other, and are only known to each other through the clearinghouse of the conscious mind. Likewise, the unconscious mind, and there are many, many of them, do not communicate with each other.
When I am teaching introductory meditation, I often use the example of the puppy mind. “The puppy mind wanders away.” Our teachers often say “the monkey mind,” but we don’t live in a culture that knows much about monkeys. We think of them as cute rascals, but people in the tropics know them to also be destructive vandals. In this culture, we do know about puppies, so I find “the puppy mind” to be a clearer image, one that opens our hearts to our own self-judgments.
After listening to Culadasa, I realize that it’s not simply “the puppy mind.” There are 101 Dalmations in there! Ninety-nine may be cavorting around. Maybe one is snoozing. But when you catch one puppy fetching mindfulness back to your conscious mind, you want to reward it. Good puppy-mind. Never mind those hundred other wandering puppy-thoughts.
We are training one puppy mind at a time with intention. We start with the intention of mindfulness, and take time to savor and be glad that at least one puppy fetched us back to consciousness.