My Thoughts About Thoughts

Many meditators and spiritual practitioners hold as their goal the state of "no thought"; they want their minds to be blank or empty during meditation.

The subconscious mind manages all of our physical processes and sees the eternal NOW, while the conscious mind is busily choosing, judging, opining, etc. Yet, with all this activity, these practitioners believe a blank mind is both desirable and attainable, and that they have failed when they do not reach this goal. They are so hard on themselves, as I am. When I sit to meditate, thoughts come rushing in, scrambling to fill any available space, often with (apparent) negativity. I have begun to see, and perhaps you will too, that when I say Yes to these confused thoughts, my acceptance of them go straight to the heart of my meditation.

If this sounds good try this: Watch your thoughts when you next sit down to meditate or to do your spiritual practices. You may see that the mind can only have a thought for a few seconds at a time, then it will jump to another topic, then another observation, then to a recollection.

My experience has been to see that none is a single, continuous thought. Rather, they are series of seemingly disconnected thoughts: I’m wondering if my daughter is awake, then my nose itches, then I wonder if my aunt is feeling well.

When this happens, we can say Yes to these thoughts through our loving acceptance. We can let them be as they are, as many as they are. After all, these thoughts, especially the upsetting and frightening ones, are friends. More and more the subconscious mind is willing to reveal these thoughts as the love and trust between us grows.

The other day I saw a link in an article that read: “Are we headed toward a totalitarian dictatorship?” I stared at its blue glow as I felt the fear grip me. I sat with that for a moment, allowing the fear to envelop me, wash over me and through me. I was allowed the awareness that my subconscious was giving me this gift, not so I would berate or condemn it, but only to experience and observe.

The link was frightening. I thought, "Are we headed toward dictatorship? And what if we are?!” I felt the emotion of it gripping me. Then I re-cognized and re-membered that I am not my thoughts and emotions, and they are not my enemies. Indeed, they are friends who I invite through my willingness to meditate and do my spiritual practices. And they did come! Good for them, and good for me. Instead of attaching to and identifying with stressful thoughts, I am able to accept them and allow them to be as they are. In my acceptance, they are free to go. 

Yes, I love fear-based thoughts. They are as benign and kind as falling leaves. And, like gently falling leaves they are free to be on their way with the breeze.

Regina Milano