Are thoughts the enemy

 

In the world of mindfulness education it can seem like there is a lot of negative emphasis placed on the thinking mind. Most of our mindfulness interventions are aimed at limiting and reducing stress responses due to negative thinking. It can even go to such extreams that some teachers even tell us not think at all. Over the last 2 months i have been working with the thinking mind in my meditation and i have come to the conclusion that thoughts ARE awareness.

Let me explain…

Over the last 3 years i have had an ongoing WAR ON THOUGHTS in my personal mindfulness and meditation practice. Not only has this constant effort caused a lot of resistance it has caused a lot of self doubt due to my lack progress. I have now come to the conclusion that constantly monitoring our thoughts is unnecessary and unnatural and any effort to do so will end in defeat because engagement with the thought process is as natural as breathing.

We can monitor our thoughts on command to a certain extent but spontaneous thoughts arise as we react to the world around us. For instance if i look at my watch i may instantly calculate how long it will take me to get to work. These spontaneous thoughts are so second nature that we don’t always observe them.

So here’s the thing….We don’t need to observe them anyway!

I have now realized that awareness is an ever present experience (except in deep sleep of if we are unconscious). That means our thoughts are apart of that awareness so they should not be fought against but embraced. It takes attention to think about stressful thought just like it takes attention to disengage and witness those same thoughts. So our mindfulness ability is still operating just on opposite spectrum’s.

Obviously we can use mindfulness to create distance from our thoughts and reduce stress. But when we approach deeper levels of practice one of the most important things is our attitude to thoughts not just the technical ability of mindfulness. Once we change our identity in relation to thinking our thoughts and story’s don’t define us. Maby the awareness behind thoughts is the defining element of who we are.

Layers of an onion

Over the last year my spiritual practise has become more realistic. In the past I often imagined that if I could get my mindfulness practise to a certain level then all my other problems would fall into place. Over the last year I have had many wake up calls that have challenged that idea.

For example my relationship has challenged me to address my own issue with intimacy. Difficult work relationships have challenged me to address my anger issues and in turn my masculinity. I am now coming to the realisation that mindful awareness is just another part of what it means to be a human being.

Presence awareness is just one of many relative truths of a human being. We posses other relative truths such as  personality, sexuality, physicality, mentality, cultural settings and so on. We cant ignore or deny these parts of ourselves or else we are spiritually bypassing or in denial.

I have realized that every truth is relative and my role as a mindfulness educator and practitioner is to simply celebrate the unifying awareness we all posses and. Hopefully use that insight to create depth in other aspect of our humanity. But I do still find myself making the practise of mindfulness into a defence mechanism. Making the practise the answer to all my problems turning my spirituality into a security blanket which allows me to avoid deep issues I need to address.

In short we all have layers to our humanity just like an onion. Awareness being then centre and most intimate core of the onion and other aspect of our humanity begin the outer layers.

No layer is more important than the other.

We cant have a full onion without all of them.