2021-1103-Gil-Thinking (3 of 5) Respecting Thoughts
3:19PM Nov 3, 2021
So here we are the third talk for mindfulness of thinking, the day that so focused on respecting thinking. I like to think that in dharma practice, we're learning to respect everything. I remember the surprise I had when I was sitting in the meditation hall for a retreat next to a Japanese Zen monk. And at the end of the retreat, people came into the meditation hall to retrieve a little cup that he'd used during the retreat. For drinking tea, we all had little cups. And before he handed out handed away that the tea cup, he bowed deeply to the cup. And then I kind of wondered why we don't bow to a cup. But it kind of opened my eyes to a whole different way of living, living living with respect for all things. But to do so wisely. So thinking doesn't need to be an enemy for us. And we can respect it, respect it deeply. Sometimes I think that thinking is, you know, the, what we usually think of as thinking, it may be the thoughts, the words of inner voice that we speak, or the images if we see more images that pass through your mind that they're kind of the tip of the iceberg. And we're mostly kind of involved with the tip of the iceberg. But there's much more to it. Or maybe there's a metaphor, which is not so icy cold, maybe it's, you know, going to going to a city park, and at the entranceway, there's a little lawn and spend all your time just on the lawn. And it's just a little part of what this park is all about. And natural preserve, perhaps, and someday you go into it, and you discover there's so much more to it. So the thinking, you know, they're sort of, there's a surface, the content, the content of the thought. And it isn't necessarily we're respecting the content of the thought. I think some content of thinking is a little bit nonsense, and sometimes worse, it may be very unfortunate to assert some content. But there's no need to berate oneself or feel bad about oneself, for what the content is, unless we act on it. And then if it's nonsense, or if it's actually harmful, it's very unfortunate. But we learned to do the way we learn to excuse me for a moment.
The way we learn to respect thinking, is to not be so involved in the content, not be glued to it, not invest so much important in the content, especially for purposes of meditation, but rather bring mindfulness to the holistic experience of thinking. And so the art of learning all the component parts of thinking. And this is a part of mindfulness in general, that to begin seeing things, or to think in terms of components comp, composites, that things come together from causes and conditions. Different things exist together in relationship to each other. And when we start seeing that, we stopped kind of reifying, or getting too focused or fixated on one particular part of the whole. So we're thinking, there is one of the most really important areas of thinking if it's really obsessive thinking you're really caught in the grip of thinking. Strong thinking is there's more chances are high, that there's an emotion which is fueling it, or with auto which it's coming. So planning, more often than not, arises out of some kind of apprehension, anxiety. Remembering something can come from a variety of things, it can come from happiness and delight. It also come from a desire to to relive it because we're lonely now and we want to kind of remember, they can come from anger and resentment that you know, review the offense over and over again as a way of somehow making the past better. And you know, making the past better, is kind of a hopeless case. Past won't change that much. But we can shift how we think about it, we can shift how we relate to it. And so for caught in the grip of resentment, and that's what's fueling the thinking. And then we want to bring respectful attention to that resentment is respectful attention to the anxiety, whatever it might be, to loneliness that might be fueling the discomfort that we might feel that kind of Musa discomfort, which is kind of like producing the tension of thinking. So each thing to be respected means to take, give it a second look, to feel it to be present for it. And I sometimes think of thinking, the content of thought, as, like a messenger, that saying, north, I see it as a signpost, sometimes, it's that this, the sign is pointing in a direction, what's written on the sign is not that important. What's important is the direction the sign is pointing. And so thinking is pointing back to the emotions, out of which it arises. As we feel the emotions and get to know them do mindfulness of emotions, as we talked about last week, then it might be a time to respect that deeply might be a time to feel it physically, feel the physical manifestation of the emotion. And that's also a place where you start noticing the tension in the body, that's related to thinking. Because the more tension there is in the body, the more obsessive the thinking will become usually, there's a way in which tension in the body is
created kind of a mental tension that presses out thinking or, or makes thinking more desperate or more important or more insistent. And there's a kind of reciprocal relationship between how much we're invested in the content of the thought and attention in the body, and how much tension we have in the body, and how much we are caught up in our thoughts. And it's a chicken and egg thing, it's hard to know which one comes first. But as we gets quieter and quieter meditation, sometimes we can see some of that we can see attention arise in the body. And lo and behold, certain kind of thoughts arise, or we feel certain thoughts arise. And we notice attention that follows in the body. So all this kind of opening up to be more holistic, has a number of wonderful functions. One is we learned to where to place our attention, mindful attention. And so it's, it's on relieving, it's productive, it helps us become free. And sometimes putting the attention into the content of the thought just encourage us to think more and more. But to put the attention on the emotion underlying it begins to allow the emotions to settle or to open up or to be processed. It also means we're not feeding our thinking with our interest, with our involvement with them, and thinking generally will start to dissipate if we're not directly interested in them, and involved in them. If we just kind of let them go. There's this wonderful teaching, and he some of you know this better than me, I never, never remember that. The number, but there's this idea that emotions never last more than some, like 90 seconds, unless we're feeding them and fueling them. And so it's relatively short, it's kind of surprisingly short, the researchers have found and I have no idea whether that's true or not. But I certainly know there are times when if I bring my attention to my emotions, and really be present for it, it seems to kind of relax pretty quickly. But thinking is even faster, that if we no longer fueling the thoughts, they they last a millisecond. It's very short. And so that perpetuate perpetuation of thinking has a lot to do with how we're feeding it and involved in it and engaged in it. And the city of respecting thoughts is to open up more widely to feel the wider ecology of thinking that's going on the emotional, the energetic, the physical, the motivational, sometimes it really helps to notice what motivation is behind the thoughts. If we might be planning a lot, maybe the motivation is to make ourselves safe when we show up at some event and to recognize Oh, that's the motivation then and feel that maybe that needs our attention. So like a signpost pointing back. And oh, I'm at anxious. And let me feel my anxiety. Let me practice without and breathe with that. And as we do this mindfulness and respect, it begins opening up the space in the mind or the space in the heart. So there's more space, more room, to hold all things, to hold our emotions hold our thoughts, without being glued to them or are trapped in them. And this idea, so it's impassive a wonderful idea, this idea that we're making space, rather than getting rid of things, rather than fixing something, we make more and more room and space. And then lots of things don't have to be a problem, when there's lots of space for them. And when requested phobic, then it's like, We're troubled by a thing pushed around by it. So this idea of respecting things, both is valuable for what we pay attention to. But also it's, it's a means by just kind of stepping away and opening up and holding things with a wide open, a mind wide open heart, and, and not being troubled by what's the content is, and finding our home in a kind of a spacious, open, relaxed. Field of Awareness, field of kindness, field of respect field of freedom. From that, that holds all things. And this is a really wonderful thing, to open up to this wide kind of scope of attention, that where there's freedom to be found, without changing anything.
And, and it's a power to kind of a superpower to do that. The end. It's changes kind of physically a game changer in many ways for our life. So may you respect your thoughts, no matter how difficult they are painful, they are, maybe their messengers, pointing to something deeper inside of you through the tip of the iceberg. That's really what you want to see. Tip of the, you know, whatever, that you really want to start dipping down into the fullness of who you are, and really seeing their way of respecting yourself to really take time to get to know all of who you are not just the voice that's thinking in their head. So, thank you all very much and we'll continue this process tomorrow.