Day Sixteen

Day 16: Mindfulness of thoughts

Mindfulness of thoughts meditation - 12 minutes

by Elise Bialylew

*click play to listen to the meditation

Mindfulness of thoughts

For those who are new to today's meditation "mindfulness of thoughts", this meditation can be tricky when you begin. We don’t often observe our thoughts as they cascade through our mind. More often we get lost in them  as they carry us off into their compelling but not necessarily factual story lines.

Remember this is a training and you are developing a new skill and this takes time and practice.

Some reflections on thoughts from my book The Happiness Plan 

We can think of our thoughts as bubbles – transient entities that appear and disappear in the space of the mind. But we don’t always allow our thoughts to just float past – instead we get fixated on them, allowing them undue influence on our behaviour.

We can easily become absorbed by the story of our thoughts, and lose touch with the fact that they are only representations of reality. In an interview with Joseph Goldstein he shares a helpful metaphor to highlight this point:

I often use the example of when we go to the movies, and we get totally engrossed in the story. It can be very compelling. The story and the movie can elicit all kinds of emotions in us. Then the movie is over, and you realise, ‘Oh, that was just a movie. Nothing was really happening.’ That’s the experience we have every time we wake up from being lost in a thought. When we recognise, ‘Oh, thinking is present,’ we’re mindful of it, rather than lost in it.

A regular mindfulness practice helps us recognise our thoughts simply as thoughts, and avoid falling into the unhelpful stories that the mind creates which increase our suffering. We are reminded that while thoughts are real, they are not always true.

So today, practice the mindfulness of thoughts meditation as a way of beginning to develop this new understanding and relationship to your thoughts. This is an advanced practice and it usually takes time before you get the hang of it. So don't be hard on yourself if the first few times you use it, you feel a bit confused about what you are meant to be doing! Remember you can always share your meditation questions on the Facebook group!

Share what you discovered in the Facebook group. 

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