Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mindful Thinking: How the simple act of noticing our thoughts broadens our self-awareness.

“Let’s go!  We’re going to be late!” These are the familiar words my children have grown to ignore.  “Hurry up!” has become standard even when the clock says there’s time.  After years of transitioning from homework to soccer practice, ballet auditions and weekday birthday parties, we live a perpetual rush to make it  ‘on-time’.  Mindlessly moving from one super hurried day to the next.  Ending each day with the same overpowering heap of exhaustion.  And tomorrow we do it again.    

At full speed life moves in a hazy blur, the colors melting into one monotonous shade of grey.  Our days are filled with one constant: over-stimulation.  Multi-tasking is the new norm – not only are we moving from one activity to the next, but we’re texting, facebooking and tweeting while doing it.  A culture so internet-connected, we’ve lost connection with ourselves. And when we lack a strong connection to our inner being we feel fragmented or overwhelmed by all that we are bound to in our everyday lives. 

When we have a moment alone, our thoughts run wild, and we lose ourselves and the moment in our compulsive thinking.  Most of it  – “probably 90%” as Eckhart Tolle would say, “is not only useless and repetitive, but because of its dysfunctional and negative nature, much of it is harmful.”

Our misguided identification with our thoughts creates an existence bound by our own self-induced restrictions.  Without noticing our thought patterns, it’s impossible to change them.  Spend some time observing your thoughts. Become your own spectator.  Without judging the thoughts or getting caught up in the thinking, without eliciting emotions, just watch them, as if viewing a film on television.  It’s astonishing to notice the internal dialogue happening.  Our limiting self-talk, the fear-based scenarios, the perpetual criticizing – all prevent us from experiencing the true joy of being alive.

The very act of noticing our thoughts, without identifying with them, is an awakening.   When we’re not victim to our reckless minds we gain control - recognizing we have the power to choose our inner experience simply by shifting our thinking.

Life’s demands will always continue.  The after-school activities will one day lessen, only to be replaced with perpetual deadlines, meetings and appointments.  But amidst the hustle the stillness is there.  Sound can only exist in the silence.  It’s only a matter of noticing. 

An amazing thing happens when we observe and pay attention to ourselves.  We tap into our inner space.  Sitting in this space ask, “If I am observing my thoughts, I cannot BE my thoughts, so who is this, in this space, observing my thoughts?” Note the body’s sense of ease and calmness as it transcends the thinking mind and connects to its True Self.

Click "For the Kids" for this week's related activity.

“Attention is the gift of solitude.  The present moment holds the key to liberation yet we have forgotten how to live in it.  The practice of mindfulness reminds us how.”

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