I’m sure you can recognise those moments when you’re just overcome by some recurring thought or emotion.
These little ideas or curiosities that tend to just pop into your head, distracting you, stealing your attention and redirecting you against your will.
It’s nice to live in a world of wonder.
It’s nice to be curious about the world and your place in it.
But be weary, for some curiosities can quickly become unhealthy obsessions and lead you astray.
Obsessions have their way of attaching themselves to you and infesting you in ways where you’ve essentially lost custody of your mind.
It’s the idea of following a thought down a path, where you completely lose sight of where you came from, where you’re going, or indeed even the possible consequences.
It’s at this point, you’ve lost control and you’re no longer in charge.
But if you are no longer in control, who is?
This is an interesting question and one that theologians and philosophers the world over have grappled with for centuries.
Some would suggest that we are all susceptible to certain external, dare I say even immaterial (perhaps even spiritual) influences, and based on your level of cooperation with them, you can gradually relinquish control to a point where it becomes difficult to claim it back.
So in essence, there are two things you should keep your focus on.
Firstly, to reclaim not only the custody of your mind, but also of your heart – through engaging in a process of purification, renewal and transformation.
This usually includes the cultivation your spirit, your will and character through conscious daily practice.
And secondly, to limit yourself from cooperating with these influences in the first place
Being able to recognise them for what they are the moment they arise, so as not to allow them to develop into obsessions capable of consuming you in ways that could be rendered destructive.
This could be as simple as learning to let go of a thought, as opposed to holding onto it and allowing it to grow in influence.
And in recognising what’s festering, as it begins to fester, so you’re able to redirect your attention towards something that would better serve you, before obsession takes a full hold of you.
I believe it's important to recognise that maintaining that sense control over your faculties (or custody of your mind) is a key part of being able to shape your experience so it better reflects what’s fundamentally important
You can’t always control your thoughts or where they come from.
You can’t always control your emotions and how you feel.
But you do have an independent will, and your will does have considerable influence over what you choose to give your attention to and on how you choose to act (what you do).
I will leave you with a quote from Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:
“The battle lines between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”
I do believe there’s some fundamental truth in that, as I’m sure can be evidenced by taking a moment to reflect on your own experience and inner conflicts.