How can we manage our thoughts? How can we control our thoughts? All the Spiritual Masters have learned to control their minds, their thinking. I always used to think that controlling the mind or your thinking meant that when a thought popped into your head that you didn’t want, you had to push it away or force yourself to think about something else.
What the wisdom of the Spiritual Masters has taught me is that it’s not so much the controlling of one’s thoughts or keeping thoughts out as it is to just let the thoughts come as they will but to not “follow” them. What this means is to not have a dialogue in your own mind about that particular thought. For example, if a thought pops in seemingly out of no where, just observe that particular thought…without judging it. This is difficult at first because until we come to understand the crazy process of thinking, we tend to judge our thoughts and ask ourselves why we are thinking that particular thought.
Meditation is key in learning how to “not judge your thoughts”. With meditation, it is about letting those crazy thoughts come (they’re going to pop into your head regardless…) and just “looking at them” and letting them go. Ok…so how do you let them go? You do this by gently changing your focus. Whether you are using a mantra with meditation or you’re focusing on your breath, it is just a matter of changing your focus from that thought that just popped into your head to going back to the mantra or breath watching. In the beginning of this meditation practice, you will have to keep doing this over and over again. Over time, the ability to stay focused on your breath, or mantra will last longer and longer and eventually, you will realize that the “gaps” in between focusing on your mantra or breathing gets bigger and bigger. Sometimes it’s really just a second or two but in those few moments (the gaps) are where the quiet stillness lies. In this space or gap, there is only awareness. It is the pure awareness that “notices”. It is the one that is observing the thoughts, the feelings, the events in your life. It is this awareness that is really who you really are.
Eventually, you can apply this to all aspects of your life. You become aware of the “aware being” behind everything. You soon begin to realize that the “aware being”…or YOU is observing everything around you. You don’t have to get into the drama of what is going on around you or even within your own head! You can just be an observer that is observing without judging.
After a while with mediation, you will notice that you feel calmer and more at peace with yourself. Somehow the things that used to bother you don’t seem to affect you anymore. Why does this happen? It happens because as you meditate, you begin to touch your deeper self. That deeper self is who you really are: pure awareness and pure spirit. Our thoughts and emotions are by products of being human and are a part of who we are but they are not at the CORE of who we are. We have our thoughts, emotions, opinions, perceptions that have been built over our lifetimes based on our past experiences but sitting at the very CORE…is who we really are…the OBSERVER. That observer is Spirit…observing all the other parts of you and once you’ve touched your core, you will realize that you are a free being that does not have to be a prisoner of your own thoughts or emotions.
Remember, how in the past blogs we’ve talked about how you are not your thoughts or emotions? You are so much more than that! Sitting in the center of you is pure spirit or pure awareness.
When I first came upon this teaching, I could not quite grasp that concept until I started to meditate. Some people get to that space right away and seem to have a quicker understanding of how meditation works. They are able to almost immediately touch their core. I wasn’t one of those individuals. I had to keep trying many times because you see…my thoughts about it kept getting in the way. Ha! The very thing I was trying NOT to do! I kept trying to “think my way to the quiet space”. Well, because I was judging my thoughts and beating myself up over them, I was missing the whole point of just letting them come, then just letting them go. It takes practice but don’t give up! The peace and calm that you begin to feel (and radiate) is well worth the effort.