Mindfulness: Becoming aware of our thoughts

Whatever we do in life, our mind is commenting. Whoever we meet, our mind passes judgement. There is an incessant stream of thoughts that is forever swirling in our heads, and they set the tone for whatever we do. There is nothing wrong with having these thoughts, but we must be aware of their existence. Otherwise, we become caught up in them, and they take control.

Suppose we are lying in bed in an empty house. The thought occurs that an intruder may enter, or is perhaps already inside. We wonder if the neighbours would hear our screams for help, but decide they are too far away. Before we know it, we are completely petrified and unable to sleep. This is an example of unattended thoughts having dramatic and irrational influences on our emotional state. A similar mechanism can cause unjustified anger, irritation, or depression.

The discursive mind is wonderful at bringing in data and bombarding us with suggestions. Access to this information is useful only if our intellect can discriminate between thoughts that are helpful and thoughts that are not. This is where we must practise mindfulness. With mindfulness, we are aware of our thoughts, and able to discriminate. In its absence, we simply believe whatever comes in, and problems can arise.

Mindfulness is an awareness that we are thinking. It provides that extra distance that stops us from confusing ourselves with our thoughts. We do not block out our thoughts, but we gain the ability to choose which thoughts to pay attention to. If we cut our finger, instead of letting the pain completely fill our mind, we retain the awareness that it is just a sensation. We observe this sensation, but from a certain distance. We may even use the experience of pain to remind us to be mindful.

Of course, we must be careful not to overdo this. There is a difference between awareness of our thoughts and actually saying “I’m aware of my thoughts”. The latter is just another thought. Therefore, we must practise mindfulness not as another thought to think, but rather as a resolve to stay in the present moment – a resolve to be aware and to impartially observe.

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1 Comment »

  1. Ollivia - Mindfulness Meditation said,

    April 1, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    For the persons having such bnormal thoughts Meditation is a best practice to follow. It will refief their mind from stress, they become relaxed also their body health too will be in good condition.

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