A few years back, Sharon Salzberg's (then) nine-year-old goddaughter asked her a question about how the mind works. She answered:
“You can have your mind be really, really big – like the sky. Then, when different things happen – maybe somebody at school says something that hurts your feelings or something really difficult happens for you – it’s not that you don’t feel it, but your mind is as big as the sky – and it contains your awareness of all the stuff in your life. When you think that way, then the mean things that people say can seem like clouds moving through the sky, and then don’t bother you as much.
"Some people feel as if they have a mind like a sponge. To have a mind like a sponge is to feel like everything everyone says is going to fill you up and you’re going to end up all soggy, filled with water, and it’s going to be really difficult to do what you want and feel what you want, because you’ve soaked up everyone else’s thoughts and feelings.
"It can take time and practice to have your mind feel more like the sky than a sponge, but I think it’s worth it.”