How To Stop Obsessing
For everyone, there are times when it seems to be impossible to stop our mind from playing and replaying scenarios of “should have, shouldn’t have, what if I do, what if I don’t, what am I going to do, what must I not do, etc.” over and over, keeping us worried, confused, frustrated, causing sleeplessness, crankiness, and generally, misery. For the average person, there is a helplessness that is unchangeable and only seems to cease when another form of obsessive thinking replaces it. Fortunately, there are several meditation techniques that can provide relief from this type of mental/physical/emotional storm.
There is an old Sufi story about a man who found a bottle with a genie inside of it. He pulled the stopper out of the bottle and with a huge puff of smoke, the giant genie was free. As soon as the genie was out of the bottle, he told the man that he appreciated being freed and would grant the man anything he wished for. “But”, the genie told him, “I haven’t had anything to do for a thousand years and am starved for work. So, you must keep me busy or I’ll eat you.” The man thought that he had been granted a wonderful gift and was sure that he could keep the genie busy with no trouble and would finally get his fondest wish granted – that being to have all his fondest wishes granted. The man immediately told the genie that he had always wanted to have a wonderful castle and no sooner had he voiced it than the wish was granted and a spectacular castle appeared before him. It was the grandest castle in the world. It had gold walls as high as he could see and turrets made of platinum.
There were beautiful stained glass windows and in every room he found servants dressed splendidly, waiting to serve him. He thanked the genie and promptly wished for some food. In a flash, the worlds best chefs appeared before him with their most famous dishes prepared and ready to be eaten. The man sat down and started to eat when the genie bellowed, “The only thing that’s going to be eaten is you – if you don’t give me some work to do.” The man trembled in fear and quickly
said, “Bring me the most beautiful women in the world to amuse me.” Once again, he was amazed to find that his wish was instantly granted and the room was filled with women of all sizes, colors, nationalities, and all spectacularly beautiful. He had just started to introduce himself when he became aware that the genie was licking his lips and looking hungry. It was then that he realized that he was in real trouble and didn’t know what to do. He then made his first wise wish – “Genie, take me to the wisest man in the world.” In a flash, he found himself on a mountaintop seated in front of a little old man in a robe. He said, “I know you are the wisest man in the world because that’s who I wished to see and all my wishes come true, but now I don’t know what else to wish for and if I can’t keep the genie busy, he will eat me. Please sir, help me.” The wise man told him, “All your wishes were selfish. What you must do is promise to share your wealth with everyone everywhere and I will help you.” The man quickly agreed as he became aware that the genie was sharpening up his knife and fork while putting a bib on. The wise man pulled a hair out of his curly beard and told the man to give it to the genie and command the genie to straighten the hair and keep it straight. The man gave the genie the hair and the command to keep it straight. The genie held each end of the hair in his hands and pulled it straight. With a hungry look, he let go of one end and reached for the man so as to devour him. But, the hair then sprang back to its curly state. The genie then pulled it straight again, leered, and started to grab at the man. Once again, the hair curled up and once again the genie stopped his attack and pulled it straight. The man saw that he had finally given the genie a task it would never finish completing until he wished him to. He thanked the wise man profusely and kept his vow for the rest of his days. And the man lived happily ever after.
- Watching your breath is a task that will occupy your genie (your mind) every moment you are physically incarnated. This "curly hair" task will set you free to witness and be involved in your life while it takes place. And that brings real freedom of choice, opens the door to one-pointed mindfulness as well as making you available for the universe to fill you with infinite and eternal truth, knowledge and bliss.
- Perhaps we can see the hungry genie as analogous to our never satisfied desires. And a straightened hair as the object of desire. Enlightenment itself is the only pomade that could hold the curly hair in place ... and thus free the genie from, and satisfy, all his desires ... happily ever-after.