By now you may have experienced many intrusions while you sit in a quiet space with the intention to meditate. Instead of paying attention to your breath for instance your mind gets hijacked by a thought or a stream of never-ending thoughts. And before long you get embroiled in your thought and the feelings associated with it. Instead of experiencing calmness and peace that comes with watching your breath you may feel agitation and anxiety.
In this two-part series, you will practice paying attention to your thoughts just as you did paying attention to your breath or bodily sensations. Like a hospitable host you will treat all your thoughts like your guests. You will treat ALL your thoughts equally and invite them into your guesthouse. You will allow ALL your thoughts into your guesthouse and intentionally engage those like you would your guests in a calm, friendly and detached manner.
With regular practice you will come to realise that your thoughts are not you. YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. They are like your guests. You will engage them and they will leave no matter how pleasant or unpleasant their company has been. Trying to suppress or reject your thoughts will only cause more anxiety, frustration and problems. It will not result in calmness, insight, clarity and peace.
Purpose of Sitting with Thoughts and Feelings
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn in Full Catastrophe Living,
Treating all your thoughts equally and observing them as such during any sitting meditation, sets the stage for a profound learning experience that many claim is the most valuable thing they get out of their mindfulness training:
The realisation that they are not their thoughts. This discovery means that they can consciously choose to relate (or not) to their thoughts in a variety of ways that were not available to them when they were unaware of this simple fact.
This realisation will help us to let go of the thoughts and get back to our mindfulness practice to experience and develop qualities such as calmness and flexibility of mind, which will prove useful in facing challenges and stressful situations in our lives.
Sitting with Thoughts and Feelings
By now you should be familiar with the routine to begin the exercise: sit comfortably for this meditation and relax. Feel free to adjust your clothing and posture till you are ready. When you are ready, drop your gaze and close your eyes gently.
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Once you’ve completed this practice and entered a calm state of mind, the next step of Mindful Journaling is the writing itself! Read the next article to find out more about 6 tips on journaling about your body.
#JournalWithCollins is proudly presented and prepared in collaboration with Shalini Damodaran, an established Mindfulness practitioner and teacher. For more information, please visit https://shalinidamodaran.com/.