How many times have you gotten “lost in thought”? Your mind is thinking one thought after another and you’re not present to what’s happening in the moment.
But there is a way we can move beyond constant thinking, and attachment to our thoughts. It’s about cultivating and becoming the witness in our lives. The witness is simple awareness of your thoughts, feelings and emotions in the present moment. Becoming the witness gives us the ability to watch our life as a movie unattached to any outcome. We use the mind to observe the mind.
That is, with consciousness or loving awareness, we can become the one who knows, the witness that observes the workings of the mind without judging or criticizing.
When we start to pay attention to our minds, we become familiar with the inner landscape of thoughts and beliefs that run our world. Our thoughts are pretty much constant, one thought leading to the next and the next. Thoughts keep coming through – words, images, visions, memories, and plans.
The mind is critical to our happiness and contributes to our suffering. Understanding our minds and realizing that our thoughts are real, but not true, is the doorway to liberation. Our thoughts can free us, but they can also imprison us. Freedom lies in understanding our inner landscape.
There are many different ways to think. Some people think visually, some words, some pictures and some through their bodies. As we sit and watch our thoughts, one of the things you may notice is that 90% of thoughts are reruns. Many times, thoughts are repeated, and I’m sorry to say some of it may even be fake news.
A great way to get past this is to learn to name your thoughts. Whispering to yourself the words– planning, remembering, judging, doubting, imagining. Keeping it light, but if you find it’s a painful thought say to yourself, “thank you, judge, for your opinion, I’m okay for now.” This shifts the identity from believing the thought to acknowledging it without getting into some struggle with it.
Since our thoughts can be repetitious, begin to notice your top 10 tunes. For example, “How am I going to get my taxes done in time?” That may be thought #1. Or “I’m worried about something going on with my daughter.” Thought #2, and so on. Then when the mind revisits the thought, you can name it; “Oh thought #1, thank you.”
Learn to look at your thoughts as “an interesting story.” Not identifying with them, but just observing. Not judging thoughts as good or bad but just observing. Perhaps relating to them with, “Oh, that’s an interesting story.”
All these thoughts we have are normal. We have judging thoughts, planning thoughts, anxious thoughts, loving thoughts, all kinds of thoughts. The thing to do is to hold your thoughts lightly. Notice the content of your thoughts. Are they worry or self-judging? When you name your thoughts, you will begin to notice they will start to dissolve. You may even realize how insubstantial some of your thoughts are. Again, being the witness is extremely helpful in releasing charged thoughts.
As we become more aware, it allows us to play with our thoughts and change them, so they serve us. Think of the thoughts that don’t have your best interest in mind, why continue to think them? Begin to think thoughts that will serve you in loving-kindness and compassion.
Stepping out of thought and beginning to let go, you will notice you will start to live from your heart instead of your mind.