Where Do I Start?
After having learned how to start the process of becoming more aware of our our mind activity for the purpose of increased thought management, we might need a tip on where to begin. Here I offer two easy options:
Option 1- Simple meditation. This is where you sit, eyes open or closed, in a state of relaxed attention. You simply breathe in through your nose and out through your nose for 3-5 minutes (set a timer) and focus solely on your breath. That is, as you are taking in a breath, you say in your mind, “I know I am breathing in.”
In your “mind’s eye,” you can picture your lungs filling, or your body sitting there taking in air, or whatever image you choose to associate with that statement. (Be simple with this image, and only choose one. The point is to train your mind on staying put, not to change what you are focusing on!) And when you breathe out, likewise, you can say to yourself in your mind, “I know I am breathing out.”
Then, repeat the process until your timer signals. Here’s what will happen inevitably: your brain with think thoughts other than the image you chose to focus on or the words “I know I am breathing in/out.” And this is your first struggle with this weak muscle of controlling thoughts generated by your brain.
What do you need to do when you notice a distracted thought? Simply say in your mind, “My mind wandered; no matter, I know I am breathing in…” and get back to your focused exercise of meditating on your breath. If you chastise yourself or resist your fly-away thoughts, it will not help your ability to come back to the breath, so try to be neutral in your observation and return to your breath without attaching judgement or emotion to the fact that you realize you were distracted.
Option 2- Honing in on your native ability of self-awareness and self-analysis.
For those persons who already find that they tend to self-analyze, simply try to do so more often.
For example, can you access what you were thinking of as you were reading the first few paragraphs of this blog post? Were you filtering my words through past experiences or associations you have had with the act of meditation?
Or what about this second–where are your hands? Without moving them, can you feel them and analyze their position and the pressure of what they are touching?
If you can recall those things, your brain will register that you are finding it important to think about your thinking and increase awareness about the small details of each moment’s reality.
You can choose anytime to stop and “rise above” your “now thought” and look at what you have been thinking about in an act of self-awareness. It is very interesting to do this. Cataloging what we tend to think about all day is a huge revelatory process!
It has been taught by professional meditation gurus that just as clouds appear and drift across the sky, so will randomly-generated thoughts arise in our minds and distractions occur. But all is well. When you realize that this has happened, take note gently, and bring yourself back to your breath. Over and over. And over. In time, your “watcher” abilities and your nonjudgmental return-to-intended-focus muscles will increase, and you will find your thought-control abilities strengthened throughout your normal waking hours. This is very rewarding!