Do you ever get stuck mulling over an idea imagining how it could play out in all the different ways… or replaying a conversation and thinking of all the ways you could have responded better? When making a decision do you think about each option to the nth degree of all the pros and cons, shoulds and shouldn’ts…. ?
Sometimes when I find myself doing this, it almost feels like I’m not in control of my own
thought… I just keep turning it over and over… thinking and thinking… or ruminating on it. Rumination is a term used for cows and other ruminant animals such as sheep, goats, water buffalo, dear, elk, giraffes and camels. These animals all have a different way to digest food than we do as humans… they have four stomachs and can store food so they can come back to it later to chew on it again… it’s called chewing the cud.
This is what we do with thoughts or ideas when we ruminate on them… They come back to us over and over to keep thinking about or wrestle with…
So, how do we stop this cycle? I have found a couple of ideas helpful in these situations. One idea is what I believe is one of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest contributions to understanding the concept of God better. She gives several synonyms for God that are Bible based – one is Mind. Divine Mind. Now, it doesn’t state God is Mind in the Bible, like it says “God is Love”(John 4:8) or “God is Spirit” (John 4:24)… but God is referred to as embodying many several attributes of Mind such as all-knowing, wise and possessing infinite understanding, and having good counsel and righteous judgment (or discernment).
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)
He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:4-5)
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the lord, or who became his counselor? (Romans 11:33-34)
For who has known the mind of the lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Given that God is Mind, possessing wisdom and knowledge and infinite understanding means that we, as His/Her reflection, created in His/Her image and likeness (Gen 1:27) – we can know all that we need to about any situation if we listen for that Divine guidance of the all-knowing, and know that understanding is an inherent quality/ability within us as reflections of Mind.
How do we listen when our mind is spinning in circles of rumination? Just as Jesus was able to still the storm when out on the boat with the disciples (see Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41), we can still the storms of thought by knowing God as Mind and knowing that we reflect and express the qualities of Mind. Can you imagine God as ruminating or having a storm of thoughts, or does God have peace of mind? As Mind’s reflection, we can and do express that same peace. I find it helpful to turn to Bible passages such as Psalms 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”. I love breaking down that quote – Be still and know that I am God… Be still and know… Be still… Be.
So, next time you’re caught up chewing the cud, or mulling over some thought again and again…. Remember – leave the ruminating to the cows… and be still.