Welcome back! In today’s MBSR meditation we are going to be practicing tuning into the landscape of our thoughts.
Investigating how it feels to be looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts.
Inviting a non-judgmental attitude, so not criticizing ourselves that we are not meditating right if our mind wanders, but accepting that it does and bringing the attention back.
As best as we can, having a beginner’s mind about the experiences unfolding, observing also with kindness and compassion.
So let’s begin by coming to a seated position, with the back straight, but not too rigid, and imagining that we are being pulled up by an invisible string.
There are many posture options available, you can sit on a chair, a meditation cushion, the floor, supported, or lying down. So, choosing what suits you today.
And taking a moment to arrive in today’s practice. Feeling the stillness. Centering. Focusing. Choosing to allow ourselves to be exactly as we are in this present moment. Allowing the body to become still.
Remembering that we always have a choice, to pause the meditations if thoughts or emotions arise that are difficult, to anchor to our breath or feet with the floor, to move.
Gathering the attention now to focus on the breathing. Noticing the quality of the breath at this moment in time.
Feeling the sensations present, as the breath enters and leaves the body. Perhaps a sense of relaxation, a calmness. Feeling the movement of the breath. Rolling in. And rolling out.
No need to be forcing anything nor changing the pattern, it is enough to just tune into the breath. Our life force.
Noticing if the attention has wandered from the breath, and making the decision to come back to the breath again. No matter how many times the attention wanders, our task at hand is to gently but firmly bring it back.
These are the moments of mindfulness. The art of being present. Breathing in. Breathing out.
And now, when you are ready, expanding your attention beyond the breath to include also the entire body, sitting here.
Befriending the sensations in the body. Perhaps noticing sensations of contact with the chair or cushion. A grounding, melting into the support. Perhaps the subtle touch of fabric on your body.
How your hands feel in the moment. Sitting with whatever may arise, not judging as good or bad. Simply being here.
Now, allowing your attention to shift from the breath and body to the sense of hearing.
This amazing sense that we have, allows us to hear, and therefore know, anything at all in the domain of sound.
So tuning into the soundscape now, not seeking sound, rather receiving whatever is present from within the body and from the environment near and far.
Noticing how the awareness receives sounds without effort. If the attention wanders, lost in thinking, planning, judging, daydreaming, that is perfectly normal, it is what our minds do. They wander. Becoming aware of the distraction, and bringing the attention back to the here and now is the practice.
So with this reminder, we can choose to attend to the stream of our thinking. Tuning in the realm of thought.
Without being caught up in the content, no matter how urgently it may pull for your attention.
Some people find it helpful to bring awareness to thoughts in the mind in the same way that they might if the thoughts were projected on the screen at the cinema.
As we sit, watching the screen, all sorts of images are flashing across the screen, we practice simply noticing each image as it comes and goes.
Practicing looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts.
And our thinking and our feelings, and everything that appears will show and teach us everything that we need to know. Noticing when we get lost in the content of the thoughts.
Perhaps practicing labeling thoughts. Planning. Worrying. Dreaming. Remembering. Then letting go completely and gently coming back to the anchor of the breath.
And you may notice that, as you sit here or lie here, watching your thoughts, that they tend to have, an emotional charge, or an echo in the body.
So some are rather pleasant thoughts, some may be very anxiety-producing thoughts or depressing kinds of thoughts.
See, our mind is like the vast blue sky and the clouds are the various thoughts coming and going, floating around, shifting, growing, dissolving.
Some may be like small white clouds, while others may be like big black thunder ones that cover the whole sky. All come and go.
Just as we would observe the dance of clouds in the sky on a summer day, practicing looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts. Thoughts moving through an open and spacious mind. Floating like clouds. There is no need to try to make thoughts come or go. Just practicing watching them arise naturally. Labelling them and letting them pass away.
And now at a certain point entering the open awareness stage.
Letting go of the thoughts and not bringing your attention to anything in particular.
Simply practicing resting in awareness of whatever is presenting itself to us at the moment. Being here with it all. Settling into the stillness and the spaciousness.
Being present. Being here now. Practicing opening to the totality of your experience.
And there’s freedom right inside this moment, this being human, this knowing, that’s bigger than thinking. This befriending of the mind and body, as they are.
Now expanding the attention to envelop the entirety of our body. From the soles of the feet to the top of the head.
Sensing the body sitting here, breathing, in this moment. Exploring the experience of our alive body. And now grounding ourselves, into the earth. Breathing in. Breathing out, down into the ground .
As we draw this practice to a close, perhaps reflecting on the experience of not getting involved with the thoughts, allowing them to be just as they are, not plagued by the thoughts, not tormented by thoughts, not imprisoned by them.
Just knowing them. And befriending them. Making the intention of being present in our lives.
Practicing being mindful of the whole of our experience. And now gently turning our awareness to sounds from inside the room and sounds outside. Maybe starting to bring back some movement and choose to stretch in any way that feels good.
The Awareness of Thoughts meditation is now complete.
Thank you for practicing with me.
In the next session, we will be exploring meditation for Awareness of Emotions, to help us to cultivate a new relationship with our emotions with less avoidance and a wider perspective.
See you there.
”See, our mind is like the vast blue sky and the clouds are the various thoughts coming and going, floating around, shifting, growing, dissolving.