Once you’ve begun to learn how to quiet your mind, the next step involves watching how your mind works, independently of you. This might sound odd–after all, how do you observe something that essentially does all the observing?
Learn to detach from your thoughts.
Yogis have long known the benefits of detaching from the ceaseless stream of thoughts, fears, and worries that form in our heads, in order to just be. Just as you lungs produce carbon dioxide, your mind produces thoughts–it has for as long as you can remember and will continue to do so for as long as you live. However, the more you can learn to observe those thoughts, the less you will react to them–and thus can begin to dramatically lower your stress level.
Is what you think who you are?
Very often, we use what we think (our opinions, preferences, and so on) as a way of establishing or defining our identity. But is what you think who you are?
Think about the number of times your thoughts took a turn, and, regardless of the reality of the situation, you went along for the ride, getting so worked up that you couldn’t concentrate on the task at hand. How often have you harped on a negative thought or memory, only to get more hurt or angry? We all have. It’s human nature. Learning to observe your thoughts can end needless suffering.
The key to mastering the mind is learning to, as the Buddhists say, “surf on the waves of your thought,”–a happy alternative to letting yourself get tossed and pummeled by them on the shore. You can do this by observing your thoughts as they come and go, watching rather than reacting. Your thoughts, like waves, will arise naturally–but now you have the tools to ride them smoothly.
For the next few days, notice when your thoughts start racing and stress levels begin to escalate–and take that opportunity to stop and observe this process. What are those thoughts about? Where are they coming from? What’s causing them? The more you can detach from spiraling thoughts, the less likely you are to become victimized by them.
Be sure to access our Meditation Pebbles Podcast for easy five minute practices you can do easily. If you would like to work more with the breath and quieting the mind, be sure to explore our meditation and mindfulness instruction information. We offer personal and group instruction.
One series to take note of is the Meditation for Stress Relief. In this series, we’ll explore together how meditation can help relieve stress. You’ll learn detailed information on stress and how to de-stress, breathing focus meditations, body scan meditation, visualizations, and more in our one-on-one sessions.
*Excerpt from Healthy Rhythms