Meditation on the Continuity of Consciousness:
A guided meditation in which one is encouraged to follow the train of thought first from the present moment into the past...as far back as you're able to go. Then back to present moment and forward into the future. All the while looking for relationships between one thought moment and another.
How does one thought lead to another? What is the connection?
The meditation disturbed me. Why? Because it made me acutely aware of lack of mindfulness. Trying to follow the trail backwards, to even five minutes earlier, showed me how little I pay attention to the thoughts swirling around. I couldn't connect them, or even recall them. How did I get from eating supper to the meditation cushion? What went on in between? No idea.
It was possible to make general connections. Enough to take me back to early childhood. But I had to make big leaps. Within the parameters of the meditation, this is OK, because the point of it is to show that thoughts occur in an unbroken stream, one leading to the next, one thought moment actually the cause of the next....And if that's the case, what came before the first thought after conception? There must have been some consciousness before conception which gives rise to the next moment of consciousness after conception.
Same thing with the forward process. What occurs after the moment of death? If there is a thought at the moment of death, does this not act as the cause for the next "thought" after that moment?
My analysis is not very sophisticated, but I think I get the general idea. Mostly, however, I go back to my original disturbance. No awareness of the thoughts I'm having/following. Since, in a very real sense, everything comes from mind (thought) (eg. every invention starts with a mere idea, no physical substance at all), it is crucial to be mindful of the flow of thought and the direction it's taking you.