Thinking, and knowing you think is most definitely not the same thing as observing your thoughts. In the first case, you have a problem, for example, and you worry about it, you go over all its details, you think about how it might get solved, you stress that it might not, and then you continue thinking about it from another angle, in order to see whether perhaps you have left something out.
In the second case, you have the thoughts, but as you become aware of them, you allow them to float by. You notice them, you realize they are coming from somewhere, but you do not take them as being you. In the other instance, you identified with them.
Let's imagine you get up and as you look out the window, you are thinking about your neighbour who is building an addition to his house. Your thoughts flit from how much noise and dust it will create on your street, to how much it will cost him, to how is it possible that he has that extra cash lying around now, in the middle of the recession, to why don't I have that extra cash lying around, to oh my God, how am I going to pay for the repair on the roof that needs doing before winter, to this is certainly not going to be the year I get a raise at work, and on and on.
Do you see how in the example of this last paragraph your thoughts, with which you are identifying yourself, take you (but it is they who take you, not you who takes you), from place to place to place, and if you let it go on, you might reach the evening, and still be thinking about something that began with the neighbour's addition on the house.
Why do your thoughts take you into all these mental places? Because you are not aware of them. They pass through your mind in a mindless way. They take over because you are sitting to one side. Your mind is being used by these thoughts, but you are not participating in a conscious way.
If, on the other hand, you practice being aware of your thoughts (and the mindfulness walk I write about so frequently is one great way to help you get there), then you can allow them to pass by, but your aware participation means that you are able to let go of them and move to other, much more life-giving thoughts. Perhaps thoughts of gratitude, of beauty, of pleasure in your life, of wonder, of awe, in other words, thoughts of all that which is capable of enriching your inner well-being.
But this is up to you. It can't be done unless you actively and consciously participate. Are you observing your thoughts today?
For much more about gratitude, mindfulness, and beauty, as well as about making choices that enhance your inner well-being, and about choosing your thoughts, have a look at my book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self, available at Amazon as a paperback or e-book for Kindle and all Kindle applications.
Click here to download the first chapter.
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