Mindfulness and the Trouble with Tribbles
Star Trek and mindfulness? Is that really logical?
A few nights ago, I was flicking restlessly through the Freeview channels on my TV when I came cross the original series of Star Trek. I guess most of us over a certain age might have fond memories of this series; how Jim Kirk got to kiss beautiful women from alien civilisations every episode, how many times Spock said “illogical” or Bones implored “I’m only a doctor” and Scottie cried out “I canna hold it captain!” ahhhh, t...ime……
I chanced upon an episode that I had all but forgotten about called “The Trouble with Tribbles”. To cut a, well, shortish episode shorter, a single cuddly create known as a tribble is beamed onto The Enterprise. Before very long there are thousands of tribbles in the ship, threatening to take over, thus heralding a catastrophe for our star spanning vessel. This is a puzzle: where, so soon, did all the other tribbles come from? Finally, we find out: tribbles are born pregnant.
Now, I reckon this is pretty much like my thoughts; no sooner do I seem to have a thought then another is born from that thought, and so on adinfinitum. They just won’t stop, clogging up my mind, effecting my emotions and changing my bodily sensations, a real bridge to engine room problem if ever there was one! It can feel overwhelming….
Ahh, I canna hold it captain!
How does my mindfulness practice help with this problem? (Geekfact: the original title for the episode was “You think you’ve got tribbles?”). It turns out that my thoughts do appear to beget more thoughts and this creates a kind of conveyer belt of endless thinking, a thought stream if you like, or a growing band of tribbles, to mix metaphors.
Yet I also notice something else, just like the born-pregnant tribbles, my thoughts, and indeed my emotions and bodily sensations, just appear this way, make a bit of show of themselves, get a bit of attention then go. Tribbles do this.
So how do I stop this from occurring?
I can’t. It’s in the nature of tribbles to be born pregnant, just as it’s in the nature of my thoughts to-the more mindful term is- to self-arise, self-display and self-liberate, and yet when my take my attention from this unceasing activity and ground into my body, then open up in a very curious and welcoming way, allowing my experience to be just as it is, the tribble “problem” is a problem no more, it just is what it is, and I appear to rest in an observer self that witnesses but does get so involved in the endless proliferation of thought-tribbles.
And then it feels as if I’m boldly going where…. but you get the picture……live long and prosper.