2020-09-01 Mindfulness of Thinking (2 of 5) The Process of Thinking
2:53PM Sep 1, 2020
So this is the second talk now on mindfulness of thinking. And one of the principles of mindfulness Vipassana practice, in relationship to thinking, is that we switch from focusing on the content of thought, to the process of thinking, to the activity of thinking into what the experience of thinking is actually like for us. And kind of an exercise that at least an example or an exercise that can maybe help with this is if you're thinking words, and to imagine that the words are being spoken in a language that you don't know. So you have no idea of what's being said. But you're very interested in so you tune in to emotion, the tone, the emotional quality of the voice, the speed of the voice, the calmness of the voice, the agitation of the voice, and all these other things you start paying attention to, excuse me for a minute here.
So there's still smoke a little bit here in Redwood City. So to pay attention, these other aspects of thinking, and that begins filling out the picture of what a thought is, what thinking is. Turns out that thinking is a composite. And it's made up of many different elements. And that's especially true if the thinking is strong and one of the very useful mindfulness exercises is to pay careful attention to your thinking in everyday life. Doesn't mean like all the time. But for example, if you find yourself really frustrated with something, if your technological devices not cooperating in the proper way, then and you feel frustrated, then look at the quality, the process they have your thinking, is your thinking now contracted? Is it forceful? Is it even as aggressive? Is it sinking? Is it getting kind of dull and giving up? What are the what are the what qualities come along with the thinking annoyance? If you get a very nice message from someone and used to really make your day what's the quote? What's the thinking like then what's the question? Thinking the characteristics of thinking, what happens then. So when kind of big things happen, if you're trying to really solve a difficult problem, maybe it's important to solve it, maybe you have a flat tire and you have to get someplace and and you're not quite sure how the jack works and jack up the car and you're trying to figure it out. Something that's really what do you really try and figure something out? Take maybe you know, 15 seconds to look and see what's the quality rethinking then and then start going through kind of a little bit of a checklist of the different things you can notice about thinking.
So one of them is what is the physical sensations that come along with that thinking? Is the forehead or furrowed up, or their eyes kind of tightened in and fixated? Those are all kind of physical sensations of tension or tightness or contraction has a shoulder has gone up higher than they usually are, is the belly contracted. There's all these places in the body that might somehow I think of sometimes, like there's just tentacles from the thinking mind that reaches down into our muscles or tugging all the different muscles in different different ways at different times. So what are the muscles that are being tugged on with this kind of thinking that we have? And is he is thinking right now more in the images? Or is it more in words? If you're problem solving? Is it more in words than an images if you're having a fantasies and more images than it is in words, so it kind of kind of look and see how does it work for you? What's happening and so, and then, is there a location for where the thinking occurs? Is there a place where the loudspeaker is blasting out the thoughts? Is it is there a projection screen kind of where the images are projected or staged To which there's, there's, there's there's that. And, and, and what happens if you simply locate the location of thinking? There's a way that for some of us that thinking can be so compelling that and we're so in it, that it just seems like it's just the nature of reality, just like thinking is what is really the main game they show what's going on. We're seeing everything through our thinking or with our thinking. Maybe we don't even see the world outside, really, but you just really really seeing some ideas or concepts or judgments, what's going on. And it doesn't have a location just is it just kind of laps and spreads or just, it just there's never any thought about a location. But if you notice the location of thinking, and you see that it's actually only a small piece of who you are smart piece of, you know, all the fullness of the body and the emotional life, the mental life, it's only a small piece, does that shift your relationship to it? Sometimes I get the sense to me that I take my thinking to be the be all and end all. And that's it, they like it. And it's kind of feels my universe. And other times, it's just like a little seed or kernel that has a place has a role. But there's something else which is bigger.
My sense of presence, attention, the body, the heart, the feeling of love and freedom can be much more expensive and bigger than the you know, the places of thinking and, and to kind of begin noticing location kind of you can shift our relationship to it maybe puts a little question mark after thinking like, what is this? What am I doing here? And so there's kind of a beginning to be a self reflective kind of question. wondering, what am I doing here with all this thinking and just really, for my, for the best is, is really useful and necessary to do all this thinking. Sometimes we can notice the tone of voice if especially if we're thinking in a, in a, you know, inner voice. And sometimes it's the images, it's kind of like a might be mood music with a movie, or it might be somehow the coloring or the mood of the picture itself is interesting to notice. So the tone of voice, the mood that we have, and sometimes the tone of voice we have can change with different times. Sometimes we've internalized that tone of voice of someone else and, and it's like we're, we've noticed that we're talking in the voice of a, you know, disciplinarian teacher that we grew up with or a harsh parent or something. And we somehow taken that on and not someone else's voice. It is our own voice. But Wow, that's all It's always angry, it's always kind of critical or to always, you know, blaming or it's always kind of little poking at things or finding what's wrong or it's harsh in there. Or maybe it's withdrawn. Maybe it's pulled away and, and reluctant to come out.
So anyways, all kinds of things that the tone of voice and and what happens to your interest in thinking what happens to you understanding what thinking is all about, if you expand your understanding of it, beyond the content, to the tone, the mood, the emotional qualities that come along with the thinking, and sometimes the emotions are really the operating thing. Or sometimes I think of thinking, as whatever our thoughts are, are really a symptom of something deeper. And one of the reasons they get a handle on mindfulness of thinking And to really understand how to work with it is so that we can begin of discovering what the what is actually deeper what's the, if the thinking is a signpost, it's pointing to something deeper, Fuller, much more important for us than the content of our thoughts. And what are those things is in fact the emotions, emotions, I think can can for some people play a extremely important role in their lives much more than some people realize. And, and also, when we can start feeling our emotions better. That's also coterminous. That's also the same environment in which we can experience liberation and freedom. There's something about the embodied feeling of emotions, that enables or supports the embodied feeling of ease of peace and liberation. So one of the things when thinking is Strong is or repetitive, is to kind of take another look at the process of thinking. And notice what the emotionality might be. As I often say that often planning is underlied by anxiety, and maybe it's our anxiety that really needs our attention. That's the thing that needs to be settled and, and supported and helped to feel safe so the anxiety can relax. Or maybe it's anger. And anger is also a very important messenger. And maybe the message is, hey, this needs attention. Now this needs care. Anger is often a sign of being hurt, and hurt. These are love and care and tenderness and tending to.
So this idea of not getting mesmerized by thoughts, but rather than see them as messengers, and even if they're on sale kind of thinking, maybe they're even more important messengers for something that's going on deep inside. It's, it's like we're going into the, into the, into home into the source into what really makes us tick and operate. That we can't if we just stay on the surface just thinking and trying to understand things and trying to plan things and analyze things, but to what's underneath that, then put drop in, drop in drop in what's here and and then also as possible to in the process of thinking to notice something about whether the thinking is fast or slow.
Do you have any punctuation marks if you think you're the gig? Is there any, you know, intermission in the stage that's playing all the scenes. Maybe you can slow things down. Maybe it's possible to maybe it feels better to relax or soften, or slow down to thinking. And this is where the analogy I gave at the beginning of the meditation comes into play. That, you know, it takes a while maybe to realize that a shoe doesn't fit. A shoe might get us where we want to go. But it still doesn't fit that it maybe causes blisters and all kinds of things. Same thing with our thinking. We might be thinking about things that are useful even, but the way we're thinking is a bad fit. We're causing blisters in the mind, stress in the mind, to think this way and incessantly. There's no requirement to be constantly continuously thinking there's no manual about the human being, there's no law A book that says Thou shalt always be thinking, because only then can you be a successful person, a safe person, you know, responsible person or whatever it might be. There's no risk No need. There is possible to slow it down. It's possible to have intermission it's possible to have punctuations. And so there's little space before the next paragraph is spoken. Just take your time. It's one of the great and wonderful things about learning and mindfulness of thinking is to learn how to think in a way that is satisfying and meaningful and maybe even nurturing and supportive and you enjoy thinking, but not the enjoyment that we get addicted to it. But the enjoyment that comes from just having lots of space and peace and ease with our thoughts and And sometimes we could it can be taken or leave it. And indeed meditation. Sometimes we realize in deep meditation because we're so familiar with the process of thinking, the activity of thinking, and all the aspects of it, it becomes really obvious. And as meditation gets calmer and more settled, that we have a lot better things to do, than to be thinking. It's actually thinking limits us. And if we can let the thinking go quiet or let it recede, and we focus on what is much more meaningful, much more life enhancing much more liberating in the focus, concentrated meditation practice.
Okay, so, thank you, and to the great to which I've given you things to think about. Maybe take some time today to think a little bit about this and do the exercise I suggested, which is through the course of the day, stopping in different kind of moments when things are kind of intense or significant. And take a moment to, to stop and look at the activity, the quality of the process of your thinking at that time. And, and kind of maybe even keep a log and notice how it changes over time and changes over different emotions and activities. Become a connoisseur an expert on what this process of thinking is like. You'll find it very beneficial to do so. Thank you