Although our thoughts are arguably very important for who we are, we are often unaware of what is occupying our mind at any given moment. In this post, I describe a simple practice which helps in increasing awareness of our mind and thoughts.
These are the two simple steps to follow:
- Become aware of your breathing. Notice how the air passes through your nose or mouth. Notice how your belly and chest contract and expand.
- Observe your thoughts; whatever naturally comes to your mind if your thoughts are given free reign. Do not judge your thoughts. Do not try to direct them. Simply observe and accept them as they are.
This practice is based on mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to provide significant benefits to physiological and psychological health. Most mindfulness meditation practices are a bit more directed than the practice described here. This practice attempts to isolate a core tenant of mindfulness – which is to be aware of ones own thoughts – and provide a simple guide for achieving that. Trained mediators may later want to work on directing their thoughts during the meditation. However, just becoming aware of ones thoughts – without judging oneself of constantly drifting ‘off topic’ already provides great benefits toward a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
The above practice is simplified to a degree that it may almost seem superfluous to write it down here. However I still think there is value in keeping this practice as a reference. If it doesn’t consist of a sequence of dozens of steps; all the better, so it should be easy for us to remember and we have little excuse not to practice it from time to time.