As you may have noticed, there is a picture of a cow just above. The reason for the cow is because cows, along with goats, sheep, oxen, deer, and camels are part of an animal suborder called ruminants. This means they have in their possession either a 3-chambered or 4-chambered stomach, and are characterized by chewing again what has already been chewed and swallowed. Chewing the cud, that’s why when you see any of the animals listed, they seem to always be chewing something. Even when they aren’t eating anything and there seems to be nothing around to chew…Somehow, they have something to chew about.
So then, now we come to the full definition of ruminate, all cows aside.
RUMINATE: to go over in the mind repeatedly and often slowly for an extended period of time
synonyms: chew over, consider, debate, deliberate, kick around, meditate, mull (over), question, think about, turn, weigh, wrestle (with)
When I read the definition and the synonyms I did see the word meditate and I did understand that the potential for rumination to be a positive activity…
And this is a big but, I think more times than not we (and I only use we because I suspect I am not alone in this) tend to ruminate to our own demise. Maybe something like this; Thinking about a thing, maybe making some plans, albeit slightly prematurely, then thinking about it again and/or still. Then worrying about the plans we made, is that going to work out right? No. Well, what if, oh that would be awful! What am I going to do if that happens?! Because if he does that then I will be screwed, and maybe I should just, no no no, that won’t work. Shoot! ah, what am I going to do? I’ve got to figure this out. Trying to sleep, tossing and turning, chewing and swallowing…or going over and over and over the past, time and time again. Regretting, grieving, blaming, feeling it, tasting it, swallowing it all over like its brand new grass! And on and on it goes. Forever chewing. Even when there is not anything really around to chew about; we can like our cow friends, produce from within something to chew about. You better believe it! Or like Mom used to say, I’ll give you something to chew about! She said something like that.
Here’s the thing, I, we, only have one stomach (mine gets nervous and upset very easily incidentally), one body, one life, and one here and now. So to consume this mind, stomach, life, and present moment, with worrying and fretting and chewing things that have already been chewed or that haven’t even been eaten yet, or that DO NOT EVEN EXIST is such a waste of valuable time and precious energy.
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with whilst grazing in the pasture:
visualize the cow. In other words be aware of how the mind is running away with us, take a minute to notice and observe the mental cow that is our brain.
complete digestion. Recognize the issue, define it, and digest it.
let it go. Arguably the most difficult part of this process, accepting that we have done all we can, planned the best we are able, and that anything and everything else from this point on, at this moment, is out of the scope of our control.
trust. We want to control, we want to fix things, and sadly, our mind wants to constantly chew. But we can trust that once we have addressed what needs addressing on a very practical real level, that the rest will work out as it does and that it will be okay. It will be as it meant to be. Excessive chewing will not change that. It only serves to rob us of the quality of the present moment, and cause our jaws to be sore and tired.
BREATHE. Even cows do it (breathing I mean). Worrying, over thinking, obsessing, they are habits, patterns of the human mind. It may take us some time to train and guide our grass chewing brains to relax, and understand, and rest in a still quiet place. That’s the beauty of our consciousness and I’m sure our bovine cousins share this feature. We can from within, supply ourselves with just as much peace and stillness as we should ever want to chew on. We only need to keep bringing it up.