Mindfulness

Jon Kabat Zinn, a leading expert in the field of Mindfulness describes mindfulness as the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way on purpose moment to moment and non-judgementally. We can practice mindfulness in relation to our breath, to our emotions, our bodies, and any activity.

When applying mindfulness to our thoughts, we can use the practice of bringing loving presence to our thoughts to reclaim our present moment. Our power to create and find peace and joy resides in the present. Our thinking mind takes us into the past rehashing events and reminds us of our pain and regrets or pulls us into worries and fear of the future.

This does not allow us to live a life aligned with our essential nature, with who we really are, with our truth. It keeps us from manifesting what is in our highest alignment and fulfilling our dreams.

Take a moment

Imagine you have a constant companion and this companion is whispering a running commentary in your ear about everything that is going on and telling you what might happen coming up, reminding you of things you said and what others said to you that might not be quite right. Imagine if that companion were constantly judging your response to things and everything and everyone around you. How do you imagine that would feel? This kind of busy mind creates tension and affects our mood by dragging us down.

Our society

Due to the way we have been conditioned to move away from feelings and emotions we tend to live in our heads a lot disconnected from our hearts and bellies. Sadly this leaves us living our lives cut off from our wisdom and run by fear and the need to control things. Opening into our heart centers eases the busy mind and allows us to move into the state of awareness that helps us access our wisdom. Peace and freedom are not accessible through understanding and thinking but by dropping into a state of present moment awareness and holding our thoughts in loving compassion.

We think somewhere around at least 40,000 thoughts a day. The mind is constantly thinking, evaluating, judging. These thoughts are not honest and will tell you any story to keep alive the buried limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and our lives. Thoughts are filled with praise and blame, hope and fear. They can be relentless.

Thinking has sadly become our default rather than conscious awareness and our challenge is to shift from mindless thinking to mindful awareness. Thinking dominates our lives and colors everything we feel and do and care about. It is when we become still that we notice these incessant thoughts. Taking pause and bringing present moment awareness to these thoughts allows them to not grip and hold on and thereby affect our sense of peace and joy.

Awareness

As soon as you bring awareness to your thoughts and open spacious loving compassion around them the run of them stops. We have to do this over and over as they will pick up again. In that interruption, we reclaim our center for a moment and they lose their power over us. Just like touching a bubble like the kids play with. As soon as you touch it disappears. As we continue this practice we gain access to deeper levels of thinking and wisdom from within us.

Present moment awareness or Mindfulness is the only practice that can balance our thinking minds. Mindfulness Meditation is not about getting rid of our thinking but about making friends with your thinking, holding it in gentle compassionate awareness no matter what the thoughts are. It is helpful to not personalize the thoughts but to merely see them as thoughts that can be noticed and recognized as what they are.

We must not try to change or get rid of thoughts.

Thoughts are inevitable and flow through us constantly. Our minds are conditioned to think, it is only our attachment to the thoughts as real that creates suffering for us. Analytical and critical thinking is essential to understanding life and its mechanisms. Remember all thoughts no matter how profound or how threatening can be held in loving awareness.

The capacity to rest in awareness without distraction in addition to simply balancing the power of thought and bringing spaciousness to it may give rise to a different way of thinking that enhances creativity and frees the mind from fear-based thinking.

Mindfulness of thought allows us to hold thinking in a larger field of awareness and stops our thoughts from controlling us and imprisoning us to move into the wisdom deep inside. This allows us to not get caught in our old patterns. Creating space through awareness allows us access greater clarity and kindness within as life happens around us.

Take a moment to practice noticing your thoughts.

Breathe deeply and notice your breath
Now notice the stream of your thoughts
First, let them pass by and now notice how you are feeling
Notice what happens when you bring attention to the thoughts, do they change? Do they disappear? Do they become threatening? No arguing or fighting them, just pure awareness. Let them know you are not trying to get rid of them. Breathe into the thoughts and your body.

Take a moment to notice how you feel

In summary, we can ask ourselves:

  • Can I look at my thoughts in a kind non-judging way?
  • Our mind is always on
  • You can’t turn off the thoughts
  • Just because you can think it doesn’t mean it is true
  • No judging your thoughts as good or bad. They are just thoughts

In working with Mindfulness of Thoughts

  1. Bring awareness to the contents of your thoughts
  2. Disentangle yourself from all of your thoughts

I will leave you with this from the Buddha

“Who is your enemy?

Mind is your enemy. No one can harm you more than your own mind untamed.

Who is your friend?

Mind is your friend. No one can help you more than you own mind wisely trained – not even your own mother and father.”