Humans have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person. Imagine if we were to react to all of these thoughts, this world would literally be a madhouse. What’s interesting though, is that we tend to react to the same particular thoughts on a daily basis. These specific thoughts have been shaped by our external world (parents, friends, media, society), and we’ve internalized them believing they are our own. And although we have mastered showing the world how in control we look on the outside, it is no doubt that we’re experiencing much lack of control on the inside.
For a very long time, I was victim to my thoughts. I suffered so much, feeling as though my thoughts were my own and that I would be forever subject to it’s control. I felt captive to each message and acted without question. I allowed for it’s preconceived meanings to impact my decisions and diminish my true desires. I was stuck in it’s merry-go-round. And guess what? My thoughts didn’t care, not one bit.
When I discovered Mindfulness, I was thrilled to discover that my thoughts were just that, a compilation of words and meanings that we use to make sense of the world around us and that the majority of them were passed down from generation to generation. I learned that by taking the backseat and simply observing my thoughts for what they are and not what I’m making them to be, has allowed me to gain some control over my actions and my overall mental state of being. By separating ourselves from our thoughts, we are no longer victim to it’s control.
What I especially love about Mindfulness, is that it includes of stance of compassion, interest, friendliness and open heartedness toward the experience observed in the present moment, regardless of how pleasant or aversive it may be. Because we are intentionally focusing our attention on the present moment in a non-judgemental way, there is no “good” or “bad”, there is only what is. This stance of experiencing our world, takes away the suffering that comes from labeling something as pleasant or awful, as acceptable or defective. When we take away the labels to our experiences, we can enjoy them for what they are, a precious moment in time that we will never get again.
So how do we achieve this mindful way of being? Through daily continuous practice. I have only been studying this philosophy for 2 years and I have only recently started meditating. For a long time I refused to sit in silence with my thoughts. The idea of attempting to observe my thoughts discouraged me immensely, I just didn’t have the time or the patience to do it. So what did I do instead? I took hikes, cooked, practiced yoga, wrote and spoke to people while (trying) to be 100% present in what I was doing. I noticed that this required me to set aside my thoughts and to activate my senses towards my focoul point in order to gain the full experience of what I was connecting to. This is where I correlated connection to that of love. By being 100% present, I literally felt the compassion that the Buddhists spoke about. My experience was greater than my thought, and with the absence of judgement, revealed it’s opposite, a sense of oneness.
I recently started meditating in order to really practice the art observing one’s thoughts, and it has been nothing short of difficult! Once I feel as though I have focused on the nothingness of my inner vision, I’ll immediately think of something of the past or something in future, usually a task I need to finish or a food I want to eat. This has shown me how in control my mind has been, and how out of control I have felt. I have found that guided meditation is easier to follow and having an intention allows the mind to have a home base when it wanders off.
Remember that repetition is the mother of learning. The more we practice Mindfulness, the more fluid and natural it will feel. We will gradually begin to become more aware of the absurdity of our thoughts. We will create the space to make a conscious choice of what we react to. We will develop more self-compassion, as we no longer identify with those thoughts that once debilitated us. We will feel more connected to our greater existence.