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SpiritMe
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Looking for a guided meditation: observing your thoughts
12/14/16 at 18:37:39
 
I am looking for a guided meditation for observing your thoughts that is about 20 min+.

I have looked on Youtube but find nothing or that is longer than 10 mins or that i like.

Anyone know of an article or some video, would be great??
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sammo
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Re: Looking for a guided meditation: observing your thoughts
Reply #1 - 01/08/17 at 02:08:37
 
first, let me say...

in terms of practical applications, meditating to observe your own thoughts is a positive developmental step most people could benefit from, whether they're psychics, buddhists, or neither.

but it is, just a step.

on a long old road... lol

Now,

You don't really need much instruction to "observe your own thoughts".

All you need to do is...

sit yourself down in a quiet place, partially close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Nice, even breaths, in and out, a little deeper and a little slower than normal breathing. Be calm in the body, and in the mind, and then.... try to think of nothing.

Doing this naturally puts the mind into a more receptive, slower, and calmer state.

science calls it theta: the mind's electrical activity (kinda) slows, but it isn't inactive. Some people say regular immersion in this theta type brain activity has many positive benefits for the physiology and psychology of humans, and if you're interested, go and google it,

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100319210631.htm

a place to start, but... I'm waffling, so...  

you're sat quietly, eyes half shut, half open, and you're breathing.

What comes after that?

You just sit there. There's no big mystery to it.

Thoughts will arise: try not to handle them, to inspect them, to allow those thoughts to pull you into any of your normal thinking patterns (which most people, even meditators, initially have). Don't judge your own thoughts: is this good, I'm ashamed to think that, what does this mean, etc etc. None of that matters right now, while you're sitting deliberately to observe your thoughts.

All you need to remember here is...

Thoughts arise, they fall away.

That's it.

Now, if you do this as an actual development exercise: then buy a notebook. Do twenty minutes of this "just sitting and observing your thoughts", and do five or so sessions, pretty close together, same time, same place, under similar conditions. Try to remember what thoughts have arisen, write them in the book immediately afterwards.  

After five sessions, you might notice various things.

firstly: you will realize how hard it is to seriously meditate in this way.  

That's totally normal. Most people struggle to calm their own mind. In fact, initially, meditating, the "just sitting", or samatha type (which was the only type taught by Buddha himself) can make a noisy mind even more noisy than it was to start with.

For some people, it's arrgghh! You realize you're noticing your thoughts way more than before, even when you're not sitting, that your thoughts become wild or unruly or you feel like you have developed some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder: all that passes though.

Thoughts arise, they fall away. If you grasp at them, if you cling to them: you're just keeping those old patterns going. Allowing your mind NOT to constantly grasp, to judge, to defend, to rationalize itself to itself: it really is liberating.

For a lot of people, trying not to think while performing repetitive physical activity can help: such as walking slowly around the garden, or rowing machine or spin biking. For others, taming the mind is more easy, and you can use mudras (hand symbols/positions) to refocus the mind into the body just enough so that "not everything is about the mind". My favourite: put one hand in your lap, flat, palm up. Lay the other hand on top, but hold together the first finger and thumb, so it looks like a little "o". If your mind is wandering all over the place, then just press your thumb and finger together, briefly, lightly, and this helps to bring the mind down into the body a little.  

Now, the aim of the game with "just sitting" meditation, is to cease thought. That's what samatha means:  cessation of thought. That doesn't mean that day-to-day you walk around like some brainwashed fool, without any ideas of your own in your head: ceasing thought merely clears a space.

And boy... if you keep it up? If you do samatha meditation everyday, for just ten minutes, morning and night?

The mind becomes so bright and quick, but it's not a neurotic, jumping about, anxious speediness. It's like... confidently coasting. You don't need to wilfully switch gears: your mind does all that anyway, without prompting. And inside that mind..?    

There's so much space there, it's all clean and bright: is that really your own mind? Yes, it is. And it was there all along! All it needed was a little polish, and see how it shines?

You might discover that meditation makes you more intelligent, especially in a insight/spiritual intelligence type way. Don't be scared of that: it's one of the many fruits of the path.  

What else might you discover during such a development exercise?

You might: look at your notes, and see patterns forming. You think about similar things, in similar ways, most of the time. Everyone does this: we're all conditioned beings, before we're enlightened.

Most of what we think about isn't even that useful, isn't even our own stuff. We humans, we're efficient: we borrow theories, ideas, ideologies, and call them our own but truthfully, most of the thought we have in our heads often belongs to other people.

but not just... religion, familial traditions, cultural teachings and political influences circulating in our heads, a lot of people do a number on themselves, too.

From a psychological perspective: all of this buddhist stuff comes very close to cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques, but buddhist scholars came up with this shizzle first, many many years ago, and it's called abhidhamma... but I digress...  

cognitive behavioural psychologists call those numbers we do on ourselves... "negative cognitive schemas".

"I'm not good enough, I'm too ugly, too fat, too dumb, too lazy", etc, etc.

A lot of people have such thought patterns, and they do nobody any favours. Observing your thoughts might make you realize you've been doing a number on yourself for years. If that happens, no big deal. Don't worry about it. You can fix it.

Now, if you're playing the observation game, and you realize, that... actually... you don't have thoughts unless you consciously will them into being:

then congratulations. You're a very rare bird indeed. It takes people years of just sitting to get to that kind of place. That place is called meditative equipoise, and it's one of the jhanas.

But, before this all become a treatise on the abhidhamma, I'll say: do those observations: see what you find. Report back!

all the best,
x





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