The more I practice, the more fascinated I become by the sensation of thoughts. An entire world visible to no other but me. Yet, there were times I chose to believe this to be the ultimate truth. Whatever was happening within me, must be real. Now, I enjoy the freedom of a more or less unburdened mind – at least I am working on it. Because once you realize that your thoughts are simply just that, thoughts, you begin to feel extremely liberated.
We are used to thinking non-stop. Whatever is happening around us, we internally comment on it, reflect upon it, do anything with it, anything but letting it be. Even the most simple things in life become awfully complex just by putting thoughts into it. Don’t get me wrong at this point, thinking is an amazing tool. If only we put a little more effort into learning how to properly use it – instead of being used up by it.
Because that is exactly what is happening. Without a doubt, we accept whatever our mind gives us. And most of the times this is a vicious circle of rumination, negativity and judgement.
In one of my latest readings, I stumbled across meta-awareness, the thoughts on thoughts as I like to remember it. Meta-awareness basically examines our mind wanderings, how easily and often we get distracted by everything, really everything.. Knowing this, it took me right back to my first couple of meditation practices where I felt as if I just couldn’t get it right. Why? Because my mind kept distracting me. I couldn’t even count up until 6 before my mind was taking me back to yesterday’s conversation with my sister or rushes forward to tonight’s dinner plans. I thought I couldn’t get it right and meditation was just not for me. What was happening instead was thoughts of the thoughts. A first encounter, followed by a slow and ongoing realization that my thoughts are no facts. My thoughts are noise. Distraction. Confusion. Interference.
How to work your thoughts
The more you have been caught up in a certain thought, the more likely it is that it will come back. That’s frustrating, I know. The good thing, however, is that no matter for how long you have found yourself in the middle of negative, destructive and distracting thoughts, there is a way out. All it takes is practice, practice, practice.
If you want to take on your thoughts and gain the power back over your mind, the most important tool for you is awareness. Here, it is not necessarily important how you practice awareness, most important is that you do it – ideally on a regular basis. Make it your healthy habit.
Meditation. I start my day with a 15 minute meditation practice. Sometimes, I feel the need to sit longer or twice a day. So I try to schedule that in. I see it as taking care of my mind, just like taking care of my body. In the book Search Inside Yourself, Meng refers to meditation as a workout – excluding the gym and the sweating. Sounds good to me!
Time-Outs. If you find yourself in the middle of negative thoughts tearing you down, be active and take a time out. This can literally be anything. A walk in nature, a couple of pages in a good book, some music or just two minutes sitting in silence following your breath. Important is a change of scenery and you becoming active.
Write it down. If there is one particular thought or a series of thoughts that keeps showing up, write them on a piece of paper and ask yourself critically: are you tricking yourself into something, are you thinking in black and white terms only, or maybe are you expecting perfection from you? What I like to do is asking myself if I would expect my dearest friend to act in a certain way or make a certain decision.. The answer is usually no. So why being so harsh upon yourself?
Remember, awareness is the driving force behind your thoughts. If you practice shifting your awareness away from your negative and destructive thoughts, you withdraw their power. The more you practice, the better you know how to use your mind and thoughts as the tool it is. And now… shhhhhht!