Are you aware of your thoughts?
This is a question I had never asked myself before last July, when I first started going to therapy. I don’t think I had stopped for a single moment in my life and wondered if I existed outside of my thoughts. My thoughts were me and I was them. My whole life was dictated and run by my thoughts, which I came to find out was fairly destructive and not very progressive.
Isn’t it strange, when you step aside for a moment and simply regard that you have had a thought, but cease to follow it? Just peacefully watch the thought pass by in your mind and with awareness, know that you have had a thought, but you let it go. It’s one of the most liberating things that has ever happened in my whole life and I am still such a novice.
Some people call this practice meditation. My therapist calls it mindfulness. It’s the ability to exist outside the realm of your personal experience. It’s incredibly difficult to do. It takes lots of practice. It is so worth it.
My therapist, Donna, started having me practice this mindfulness exercise every time we met. She wanted me to begin to understand that we do not have to make decisions based on our immediate thoughts. In fact, in time, we can begin to separate from our thoughts and give ourselves some peace of mind and begin reacting to people and situations differently.
This practice has helped me to begin to deal with my emotions in a much more healthy way than I ever have before. I used to feel something strongly, act accordingly strongly, get incredibly angry with myself for acting a certain way, loathe myself for being such a loser and then repeat. For instance, if someone told me “you’re wrong, this thing I asked you to do was done incorrectly,” I would immediately respond defensively. Perhaps not always with my words, but sometimes with my body language or my tone of voice or silently with my thoughts. I would be embarrassed, because who reacts well to getting told they messed up? Then I would be angry with myself and either tell myself in my head “ugh you suck” or otherwise argue with someone about why I was not wrong. Then I would hate myself. “I’m such a miserable failure,” I’d think. Then I would let it go. All of this stuff happened in my head. It happened in the world too, but mostly in my head. I would be caught, not able to observe the situation at hand.
I’m nowhere near being able to calmly observe every situation yet, but I am so much better now. I’ve noticed a delay in the scorn I give myself, where I genuinely listen to what people have to say now. I feel less of a need to protect myself, because I can observe a situation without being fused to what I am thinking.
It’s the most beautiful journey.
I highly recommend it.
If you’re interested, sometime you might try and sit with your eyes closed and your feet on the floor. Think about the air that is touching the tip of your nose. Move your full awareness to the tip of your nose. And the first time you think “this is so dumb,” imagine that thought flying past, and remember the air on the tip of your nose and choose not to follow that thought.
Allow that emptiness, the slow rhythmic breathing to free you. Allow the quiet to surround you and feel the serenity of nothingness.
Just be still.