Another knot for the mind:
In trying not to get lost in thought or day-dreams we create a frustration born of an enforced duality. Sitting in meditation we attempt to remain as a mere witness, passive yet detached, but this apparently 'more spiritual' state/experience is unfortunately lost every time we become unintentionally absorbed in thought/thinking. This absorption happens so easily and naturally that we cannot see it happen. Only afterwards when the thought has passed do we realise that we were absorbed in thinking and our detached witness state, lost.
Being lost in thought is the meditators bete-noir.
But what is actually happening here? What does it mean to be 'lost in thought'?
It seems obvious that in trying to maintain a detached witness state we are in fact enforcing a dualism onto experience. Actually becoming absorbed in thought and loosing that dichotomy between subject (witness) and thought (object) we are effortlessly lost in a real unity where the observing and separate I is 'lost' in thinking. The I becomes merged with thought. Subject and object flow effortlessly into one.
Thinking itself seems to happen spontaneously and yet so does the apparent act of 'seeing' or 'witnessing' a thought, and the act of being 'lost in thought'. One minute you are contemplating a thought/memory, the next you are 'lost' in a day-dream. This all seems to happen quite naturally and easily.
In attempting to maintain the witness state through practice we try to control our thinking as (we have been told), thoughts distract us and we loose ourselves in the realm of illusion. And yet the idea that the witness state is better than thought/thinking also lies within the realms of illusion.
What is thought but awareness/consciousness appearing as a fleeting mental form or ephemera. Thoughts themselves are awareness, just as the witness state is. Absorption in thought and forgetting the witness state - day-dreaming - is awareness too.
Now, how can awareness loose awareness? If both witness and thought are awareness appearing as witness and thought, then there can be no such thing as 'forgetting'.
The important point is that there is in fact no-one who can 'forget' the witness or become 'absorbed' in thought. The whole process is happening without reference to an 'I'. Only a separate individual could loose its awareness and become 'lost in thought', which is experienced as 'other', separate and troublesome: a distraction from the pure empty witness we have read so much about.
Only a separate 'I' can try to maintain this lofty witness state and it therefore takes on certain 'spiritual' practices and rituals/repetitions in order to do so.
The illusion of an 'I' attempts to extinguish the illusion of separate thoughts which block the experience of the true unpolluted witness. Take away the notion of an 'I' and all we have is awareness: awareness watching itself (as apparent subject and object)and awareness 'forgetting' itself by absorption into itself. There is only 'remembering' and 'forgetting' to an apparent individual. Really, there is no individual and therefore no-one who can control the movement of awareness and the forms it takes.
Awareness is easy. It is natural, effortless and spontaneous knowing. It is what you are. But whenever you 'remember' that you are apparently an individual separate ego you believe in your fragmentation and therefore experience a fragmented version of reality which is always pure, deep and whole.