Thirty four thoughts during meditation

wildmind meditation news

Chloé Morrison, Meditation is not about clearing the mind fully; it’s not about not thinking.

It’s about focusing the mind; it’s about training the mind to stop its chaotic cycle of obsessive, counterproductive thoughts.

It’s about focusing on the present moment, the value of which can only truly be felt through practice. (And once you start really noticing the present moment, you recognize how much we are in a zombielike, autopilot mode for too much of our lives.)

But it’s inevitable that thoughts scamper into our minds during meditation, and that point is often confusing to anyone who hasn’t practiced.

As opposed to turning the mind off, it’s more apt to say that the goal is to be aware of our fleeting thoughts from a more objective distance and then continually, kindly redirect the mind back to the current moment.

It can be amusing to stand back and listen to what the mind comes up with.

I meditated Tuesday with Yong Oh, who teaches a class at my office, and here’s how some of the thoughts went:

1. Breathe. In. Out. Yes. Breathing is awesome. Meditation is awesome.
2. I feel it all. I feel it all.
3. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Just. Breathe.
4. I’m so in the moment right now. I’m awesome.
5. No. That’s ego talking. Stop it.
6. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
7. I like the sound of my teacher’s voice.
8. How does it work to meditate and guide the meditation at the same time? I should ask him. No. I shouldn’t.
9. Shhh! Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
10. My stomach just growled. Give me all the food!
11. I shouldn’t spend money on lunch today.
12. But who likes to go home and eat turkey or canned soup?
13. I need to think about my personal budget more. Yes. I’ll do that—after I buy lunch.
14. Back to the breath. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Feeling the breath is truly amazing. Our bodies are amazing.
15. My foot is tingling. It’s falling asleep.
16. I’m supposed to just observe that. I don’t need to move it. Just feel the sensation.
17. I’m present in the moment. Feel the air. Feel the breath.
18. Is it hot in here? I’m hot. I want to take off my sweater. No. Don’t move. Be present with the feeling.
19. Oh, my god—my foot is numb. It’s seriously, dangerously asleep. It can’t fall off, right?
20. Just move it. It’s better to move than be distracted. Ah, OK. That’s better. Will not obsess about potential problematic circulation. That’s a thing, isn’t it?
21. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
22. What about pizza? I wish I could eat some pizza. I shouldn’t spend money, and I shouldn’t eat pizza.
23. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
24. “How strange it is to be anything at all.”
25. Jeff Mangum is brilliant.
26. Wow. There’s a lot of spit in my mouth right now. Like, a lot.
27. Just swallow it. Don’t be weird.
28. Does everyone else think in nothing but song lyrics sometimes?
29. That new Josh Ritter album is genius.
30. Where is my mind?
31. OK. Refocus. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
32. My back hurts.
33. I need to run after work. Or at least walk. OK. Maybe I just won’t eat any pizza today.
34. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

The reality that meditation doesn’t equal not thinking is worth repeating, because if your goal is to totally clear your mind for 30 minutes straight—or maybe even five minutes straight—you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.

The ability to observe my thoughts and identify them as products of my mind—not self—has been one of the most transformative results of my meditation practice. It’s made it easier for me to not take everything in life so seriously. It’s helped disconnect me from needless drama that we often stir up ourselves in our minds.

I encourage you to step back and observe your mind as you might view a movie—with curiosity and amusement, and see how that changes your world.

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