There is a wonderful description of meditation which describes the role that the mind’s innate spaciousness can play in meditation practice. I have read a couple of versions of this story, my retelling probably borrows from both. It goes something like this…
Meditation is like trying to tame a wild horse. I could keep that horse in a small compound, giving it little room to move around in the hope that that will quieten it down. It’s a wild horse, unbroken, and despite my best efforts the horse continues to kick, whinny and throw up dust.
Alternatively I could put it in a large meadow. Initially it kicks and jumps around, generally making a fuss, but eventually it realizes that making such a fuss in such a large meadow is kind of pointless. Nothing and no one is bothering it. So it stops, has something to eat and eventually falls asleep. Something might startle it, but in the spaciousness of the meadow, it will soon quieten down again.
The same goes for my mind. I can try and make my mind stop chattering, struggle with it to make it calm down, but I am likely going to become frustrated in the effort and not achieve what I set out to do. It’s the trying that is getting in the way. The mind likes chattering. It is what it does.
Alternatively I could let my chattering mind rest in the spaciousness of the mind. I don’t try to control the noise, but allow the mind to do what it wants. For a while the chatter will persist, but eventually with nowhere to go and nothing trying to make it stop, the noise will slowly quieten. There’ll be peaks of chatter but left to their own devices, they will go away.
Part of the challenge is the ‘just letting things be as they are’. If my mind is noisy, I might have a wish to shut things down. Maybe it is exhausting me? Maybe my outside life is loud enough, and the chatter in my head is just adding to the disturbances that I am dealing with? Or if the thoughts going through my mind are images and ideas that I prefer to believe that someone like me does not think, allowing them just to be present without any interference from me can be a trial, making me fidget in my seat.
It can help to remember that all our thoughts arise and pass away. What about the thoughts that you had yesterday or this morning? Where are they now?
The challenge is in the trusting of the process, something that familiarity and practice will bring. That is why meditation is referred to as a practice.