Meditation, it's not what you think...
Updated: Jun 14, 2022
"Andy and I both enjoy a good meditation and it is an integral part of our spiritual practice. We like to meditate together; but most of the time we are seperate. One thing that is troublesome and gets in the way during my meditation is paying attention to my thoughts. This article talks about the difference between thinking, and watching your thoughts. When we think about something, we are not meditating. We can't "meditate on a topic." What we are actually doing is Thinking about a topic. When we are watching our thoughts we are disengaged, we are observing them from a distance. They exist, yet we do not engage with them.
I like to do what the following article suggests. When I am trying to meditate; trying to quiet my mind; I focus on gratitude. Breathe in, "thank you", breathe out. Eventually the thought life becomes calmer. Then I can achieve something resembling a peaceful mind. This a great way to start the day…with a peaceful mind"
Here is a little video we cranked out discussing this article.
Here is the article we are referencing.
November 2019 | Grapevine Classics
The parade in my head
By: Ed L. | Wightwood, California
One of my favorite bumper stickers reads: “Meditation, it’s not what you think!” Having attempted meditation on and off for years and having read a lot about it, rather than trying to control and enjoy my thinking, I have come to the conclusion that meditation is a simple matter of just watching what I think. I recently read that most people think about 200 thoughts a minute, and that 95 percent of our thoughts are repetitive. So by my account, for the hour I lay awake last night watching my thoughts, about 12,000 of them paraded through my head, and 11,400 of those were redundant. My lines of thinking typically have themes, which for last night was, “things to worry about.” I wish I could report that there are acrobats of happiness, marching bands of well-being and columns of contented clowns parading through my nights, but those folks never come to town without an intentional invitation. So, knowing how I think, I’m learning how to “watch the parade.” For example, I know that every 10 minutes while I lie there wide awake in the middle of the night, my work (let’s call it an elephant) comes into view. Although my tendency is to leap forth and jump on every elephant’s back (such as, worry about financial insecurities), I find that if I remain on the sidelines and watch the elephants appear and disappear, I don’t spend 15 minutes riding them, worrying about the multitude of difficulties associated with elephants (such as, am I going to get fired tomorrow?), which then influences how I function at work the next day. Don’t get me wrong, the elephants still show up every 10 minutes. I just don’t feed them as much, so there are less elephant droppings to take to work the next morning, which my coworkers appreciate. The middle of the night is a great time to watch your thoughts, so long as you don’t latch onto any of them. I have just as many or more thoughts during the day, but in the light of day I’m distracted by all the things I’m doing, which presents yet another challenge. At night, I have only my thoughts to keep me company. So I practice a type of disengaged meditation. I simply watch the random thoughts pass through my mind. By not engaging in the thoughts, I find they don’t grow and turn into fear, anger, frustration, worry or resentment. A 15-second-long thought has no weight and is so much nicer than a 15-minute-long woolly mammoth that will smother me in my sleep under its weight. Hey, it’s still insomnia, but it’s so much lighter without the heavy baggage of emotional engagement. And I’ve found yet another opportunity to practice the “Alcoholic’s Meditation,” which was first published in the November 2010 Grapevine and in a related article entitled “Step 11 to the Rescue” in Grapevine in 2013. That is, late at night when I need a reprieve from a negative train of thought, I engage the positive parade of acceptance and gratitude. By breathing in “welcome” and breathing out “thank you,” I actually (somewhat) control the types of thoughts coursing through my mind. Should you choose to meditate this way, here is a cautionary note: There may be pink elephants riding on pink clouds in late night parades focusing on acceptance and gratitude.