Friday, May 13, 2016

Observing our thoughts

We have about 50,000 - 60,000 thoughts every day. Yet, we are consciously aware of perhaps 200 of these thoughts. 95% of our thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday or the day before. 

Be the observer

One of the most powerful tools that anyone can have and use in life is that of being the observer. To observe ourself in action. To observe our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses, and motivations. As an observer, we can realize that behavior patterns, such as being needy, or aggressive, or nervous, is not me; these are the patterns or habits that have been conditioned into me. If we are observing these patterns, then who is the "I" that is observing? The observer is the original me, before the "extra" packaging of life's conditioning arrived.

As the observer, we naturally gain more distance from the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing. As the observer, we are not affected so strongly by our emotions. We learn to detach from thoughts, feelings and events. We gain more perspective -  just as if we were watching an actor in a movie or on stage. We realize that, as powerful as our emotions may seem, they are not me. We are not our emotions. 

Do not judge our thoughts

Very often when we start to observe, and become aware of our thoughts and feelings, we also start to judge ourself harshly. The aim of being the observer is to accept ourself, not to judge ourself. Thoughts will pop up in our mind as it is the job of the mind to think. What we do with those thoughts is important. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "You cannot keep a bird from flying over your head; what you can do is prevent it from building a nest in your hair."

We all seem to be have the skill of objective and detached observation when we are doing it for a friend. That is because we are one step away from the situation or emotions that our friend is experiencing. The key is to employ the same detachment when it comes to what we are experiencing.  That means we do not judge or get involved in what we are observing. We can observe with understanding, and compassion, for the way life has shaped our thoughts. We need not be influenced by this. We do not analyze. We do not become trapped by that which we are observing. We watch it all coming and going, and understand that with a lifetime of input from family, culture, religion, schooling and media, we are sure to have a variety of thoughts. We simply accept everything we observe in ourself. We build awareness within us. 

This practice of meditation brings with it the possibility of change. Change can happen only if there is awareness and acceptance of our current situation. In conclusion, as Aristotle said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." So here's to objective and detached observation. Let it bring a  change, a change that brings inner peace, calmness and silence within us.

Credit: These are my learnings from Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide spiritual movement, dedicated to personal transformation.