Notice the thought, but don’t think it.
“What the heck?” my daughter scoffed, incredulous as she read that line over my shoulder, “That doesn’t even make any sense, that’s impossible.” I was as dismissive of it as she was initially, but alas, the sentiment has been rattling around in my head for the last few weeks and I’m awfully close to obsessing on it.
How do you respond to it? Are you wondering how it could be possible to do such a thing? Does it sound like nonsense or perhaps it has a ring to it, a distillation of your need to get control over your own thoughts?
I think it’s fair to say that when considering meditation many believe that it is a way to master our minds, to elicit some control over our thoughts. I also think that many immediately realize the futility of that pursuit and we give up on the idea altogether.
So let's explore the veracity of the claim that we have any control at all over our thoughts. As an experiment, an inventory, grab a pen and paper and set a timer for five minutes then write down every thought you have.
My bet? You wouldn’t even make it to three minutes. Our brains are whirring non-stop, unconsciously filling with thoughts in seemingly unconnected ways. That snub you suffered from that mean Jennifer on the playground in fifth grade to that new haircut you’ve been considering to that adorable pooch from the Westminster Dog Show and on. Indeed, controlling our thoughts is an impossible task. So if we don’t have a way to control them how can we change the way our minds are working if they’re not working for us?
We can change how we feel about the thought, how we respond to the thought.
That’s what I think “Notice the thought, don’t think it” really means, to consider how the thought makes you feel, why do you feel the way you feel about the thought and instead of being at the mercy of the emotions the thought might stir in you, rather you start making conscious, deliberate choices to feel those feelings or not.
So, without thinking about them, what are your thoughts?
Written by Hot Feet yoga instructor Stacy