You Are Not Your Thoughts

You Are Not Your Thoughts

How many times in a moment, minute, hour, day, month, or a year have you had a thought that emerged from no particular place and it seemed so imperative, actual, true, that you believed it’s validity and took it to be you — your reality? We become identified with these fleeting thoughts and begin to make them “me.” We all have thoughts; they arise seemingly out of nowhere, and if we do not buy into their story, they magically change, shape shift, morph into a different thought or dissolve.

The mind thinks and that’s its job; it assembles our experience and organizes into an idea, concepts, words that make sense. The thinking mind analyzes, in response to what has happened, is happening, or might happen. This useful thinking analyzes data, figures out research, writes stories and books, choreographs a dance, and much more. We need these3b8c7c80d51c5c4b5ca585e108a56d8bfunctions of the thinking process to make use of life experience.

Yet when it takes over, dominating our reality, thinking instead of being is usurping our capacity to be in the present moment. We can no longer simply be curious, interested, exploring our moment-by-moment experience; instead, some voice in the head is telling us what is good or bad, positive or negative, when we should feel shame, guilt, blame, anger, sadness, grief, anger, pity, fear, or when to love. And in our naiveté or ignorance, we dress up in the form that fits this mental scenario; we wear it like a cloak.

The script and tools are here to not continue to function from our “heads.” Mindfulness and meditation are a gateway to freedom and being able to “see clearly” what our direct experience is and to inquire what is really so. We begin to trust the messages from the body sensations, the feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), our emotions, and we perceive and discern the difference between a passing thought versus being lost in proliferating, ungrounded thoughts that capture and hold hostage the insightful and wise being that “knows.”

I would like to share with you these words from Jack Kornfield that sum this up so beautifully:

As we observe our thoughts and question our beliefs, we come to understand that while thinking, planning and remembering are vital to our lives, they are more tentative than we believe. Our thoughts are always more provisional and one sided than we admit. Ordinarily we believe them. But questioning our thoughts is at the heart of Buddhist practice. When the thinking mind is quiet and the attention careful, all of a sudden we “get it.” Thoughts and opinions arise but they think themselves and disappear, “like bubbles on the Ganges,” says the Buddha. When we do not cling to them, they lose their hold on us.