For many, the goal of meditation is to quiet the mind and stop thinking. We feel bad when we sit to meditate and we can’t stop the incessant flow of thoughts. We berate ourselves each time our minds get unfocused and start trailing away from the meditation. We do anything and everything to just shut our minds up so we no longer have to hear our negative thoughts.
But what if we changed our perspectives? What an honor, a privilege, to be able to listen to these quiet whispers coming from our souls. Dark yet beautiful. Terrifying and powerful. Full of intuition and life purpose mixed with trauma and fear. Our thoughts call out to us in each moment and in times of quiet or boredom we hear them even louder. We think this is a sign of us being bad meditators or unspiritual.
But what if the thoughts are just messengers and teachers? Reminders of the things that reside within us and what make us who we are? What if our thoughts indicate that we are just human beings, worthy of love and undivided attention no matter how negative our internal worlds may seem?
Sometimes we can fall into believing that all of our suffering is somehow not important or that we are selfish for focusing on it too much. We can think that the way to be a good person is to ignore how we feel and simply quiet the mind until it feels like nothing is wrong. We think that these negative thoughts are a sign that we are not in the present moment. But the negative thoughts that haunt us in every second of every minute can actually be callsfrom the past. Even if being the present moment is the goal of our meditations, we will never get there by ignoring how we feel constantly or telling ourselves that we are bad for feeling or thinking.
Some of the scariest things in this world are in our own minds. This is why it can be so hard to pay attention to the thoughts. Sometimes we think they are negative beings coming to us out of the dark and yet they are only hidden figures from the depths of our own souls. These fearful parts of our minds call to us to be integrated, to be seen, to just not be ignored or pushed aside. Because they are an important part of us. For those of us with abandonment issues ignoring parts of our inner selves is the last thing that we need.
What if instead of mediating to escape these thoughts and shadow parts of ourselves we set out to embrace them. To welcome with open arms each part of ourselves that has been rejected either by ourselves or by others. Meditation can then turn into a practice of trying to abandon the human self and somehow transcend all that makes us human, to simply being whole and accepting ourselves for who we are in this moment. That is true love, and that is truly being in the now.
Here are my 3 steps for beginning to be more loving and accepting of yourself by paying attention to your thoughts in your meditation practice.
- Don’t fight the feelings or thoughts.However you feel is okay and valid.
- Stay with the feeling and/or thought.See if you can describe it with one word. Describe it – if it were a picture in a book, what would it be?
- After staying with the feeling/thought for awhile begin to ask questions about it. Why do you keep having it? What is it trying to tell you? What would happen if you did not have it? What does this thought or feeling prevent you from doing? ask whichever questions you feel guided to ask.
Remember that there are many types of meditation and that you can turn everyday practices into meditative ones. You can even practice paying attention to your thoughts and feelings while washing the dishes or doing laundry. Self-awareness is self-love and the beginning of this process is allowing yourself to exist how you are.
None of these statements or products have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This products and/or statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is for educational purposes only and it is not meant to replace the care or advice of a medical professional in any way.