How to observe thoughts and feelings. Observe. Allow. Let go. Simple, in theory.
Is this the secret to an easier meditation experince? What does it really mean to observe your thoughts? And, how does that help you figure some of your shit out? We’ll dive into these questions and then some in hopes of encouraging you to sit a little more often.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning you can’t turn off your brain. It’s constantly on the go. We rely on narrative. We, humans, love meaning and stories.
Especially the stories we tell ourselves.
Our minds are basically story-generating engines.
It’s the job of the mind to continuously dissect, judge, freak out, assess, anticipate, reflect, and give our unique twist on a situation, complete with internal commentary.
Secondly, expecting your brain to stop thinking it’s like asking your heart to stop beating. On average, humans have between 60,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. So it ain’t gonna happen.
How to observe thoughts and feelings
When you meditate, you are training your mind to focus. To simply notice your thoughts. This process happens in two ways.
First, by learning to focus on a single object, idea, a word, or your breath. This helps to develop concentration.
Second, you learn to observe your thoughts without getting caught up in them. This helps to build the skill of mindfulness.
So, what exactly happens when you start observing your thoughts?
You begin to see how often your mind wanders off into thinking about other things. You will also notice that many of your thoughts are focused on negative things, such as worries or concerns. However, by observing your thoughts and emotions, you start to gain flexibility with them. You can choose to focus on positive thoughts instead of negative ones.
Additionally, you begin to let go of thoughts that no longer serve you. This flexibility with your thoughts and emotions can lead to a more peaceful and calm state of mind. This also helps to focus our attention, assisting our ability to increase productivity.
Another thing that happens is we begin to create space between ourselves and our feelings and thoughts. A simple example could be instead of saying I’m sad, you say I’m feeling sad. You separated yourself from the feeling, putting space between you and the label. You can feel sadness, but sadness doesn’t become how you identify yourself.
We create space between ourselves and the emotion. We start to speak as if the feeling is temporary and that it will eventually pass through us. Not something we own or have to grip tightly.
What are the benefits of watching your thoughts and emotions?
- 1. You become aware of your streams of thoughts and habitual thinking patterns.
- 2. You learn to catch yourself in negative thought spirals and break out of them.
- 3. You become more aware of thoughts and emotions and how they affect each other.
- 4. You develop a greater sense of self-awareness overall.
- 5. You learn to be more present in the moment and less caught up in your head.
- 6. You become better at problem-solving and thinking outside the box.
- 7. You feel calmer and more centred overall.
- 8. You develop a greater sense of peace and well-being.
One additional thing I wanted to mention is sometimes when you first start working with mindful meditation, it’s normal to feel physical sensations like tingling or pulsing in your body. These sensations are caused by the increased blood flow and energy flowing through your body. Just focus on your breath and let the sensations pass. If they become too distracting, you can always stop meditating and take a break.
When you’re meditating, there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
The goal is to focus your attention and be present in the moment. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to get the most out of your meditation practice. Here are two tips to get you started.
1. Find a comfortable position. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor like a yogi; just make sure you’re comfortable and can breathe easily.
2. Set a timer. It’s easy to get lost in thought when you’re meditating, so set a timer for 5-10 minutes to help keep you focused. And if that’s too much, start with 3 minutes and build from there.
If you’re in Vancouver and want to take your meditation practice deeper or look for another way to get started, check out Lucia Light meditation. Relaxation for those in need of a deep unwind.
And, finally, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog article on how to observe thoughts and feelings.