Meditation self help 101: Get curious about your thoughts
Photo of Rodin's "The Thinker" by Flickr user Brian Hillegas
You don’t need a book for this "course." There are no prerequisites. There’s nothing to do to prepare. And all the material you need is inside yourself. You have it with you wherever you go.
It’s become common knowledge that meditation is good for your physical health, for reducing stress. And, did you know that it is also great for your mental health? Last fall I blogged about studies on meditation and recovery from depression.
But, what about just feeling happier? Not feeling like a victim of your circumstances? Improving your relationships?
Can one activity, such a simple one, help with all those things? Well, yes. But simple isn’t necessarily easy. Hence, the course. Being with yourself, without judgment, learning to notice subtleties — the way an artist notices textures, shapes, colors and the play of light — takes practice. With practice we improve.
In my experience, many people only think about meditating for stopping their thoughts. Instead, as a first step, get curious about them. Start to take stock of the kind of things you think about.
What are your patterns? Do you always go to your problems at work, or do you fantasize about where you’d rather be? Neither is right or wrong.
By being curious about your thoughts you can begin to see their true nature — they just happen. That’s the brain’s job: to think.
And more importantly you become aware that there is a part of you that exists outside your thoughts — that “you” are not your thoughts. You can decide to change your thoughts. Perhaps you’ll realize you have more control over your thinking than you ever realized.
Try meditating with the Popcorn Meditation Technique — watching your thoughts for two minutes. Notice how relaxing it is. And ask yourself, “Who is it that's doing the observing?”
In the next several weeks I’ll be exploring more how meditation can be the catalyst to improving your life from relationships to finances to creativity. If you’d like some homework, check out Focusing and Mindfulness Meditation, both concepts I draw from.
Susan Scott Morales is a meditation teacher, psychotherapist, published poet, novelist, and community contributor to AnnArbor.com. Tweet her @susanscottmoral, reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website: susanscottmorales.com.