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Any help with this appreciated - Meditation, observing thoughts

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by anubic, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. anubic

    anubic Member

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    So I've been trying to meditate now for some while, but I have some questions and problems I can't figure out. I am interested in being able to observe my thoughts, to detach myself from them, and I have been trying to do so for a while, mostly without any luck.

    Every time I try to observe my thoughts, I end up frustrated, and give up. I always give up because I simply can't find my thoughts, as weird as it may seem. I am trying to be aware of them, but I simply fail time after time. When I want to be aware of my thoughts, I expect a feeling of knowing that this is a thought, and I am aware of it, but I rarely get that feeling. I always end up asking myself, am I doing it right, because I am very unsure of what are my thoughts and what are not.

    I wonder then if I am doing something wrong, if there is a special "move" with my awareness I have to do, so I can observe my thoughts, if there is one simple thing I am doing wrong. Most of the time when I try, I don't know where to look for my thoughts, or what they are. It's like Im searching for them all the time, but I am never able to be aware of any of them , always lost in them. Most articles regarding this on the internet says what you need to do, "to be aware of your thoughts, disidentify with them, just observe them, do not judge them", but they don't say how in details, or what could go wrong. When I try to follow the directions, "just observe, stand back and observe your thoughts flow by", I just end up trying to observe my thoughts, but there are no thoughts to observe, because I can't find them/ be aware of them.

    Also, what does "intentional thoughts" have to do with all this, I mean, things you can say to yourself when you want to. I sometimes wonder, if saying some things to yourself is the same as being aware of your thoughts? I highly doubt it but after trying for so long time to be aware of them, I don't know what to believe anymore.


    What am I doing wrong from what I wrote? How can I be aware of my thoughts, and know I am aware? Why am I not able to be aware of them, even though I try?

    It's really hard to explain everything, Im asking for some help from any of you willing to give me some advice or answer my questions. Any help GREATLY appreciated.
     
  2. MDR

    MDR Member

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    I'm new at this, so I'm probably not the best person to answer but my 2 cents:

    Catching thoughts seems to be like catching smoke -- from a little distance you can see smoke rising in a column. If you try to "catch" it, tho, not only is there nothing in your hands when you open them, the column of smoke is all over the place and can be hard to see at all. Which is frustrating because you know there's still smoke there.

    I count while I'm breathing rather than using a mantra. If I get frustrated/confused by what's going on in my head, I just get back to counting and trying to "ignore" anything that is not my counting.

    I'm also not too concerned about what happens during meditation. As I understand (and am hoping for!!), the benefits of meditation come outside of meditation. I'm hoping meditation is mental exercise and the point is the same as physical exercise. How comfortable or uncomfortable I am during my walks or workouts is irrelevant -- the point is to do it most days of the week and the results are not seen during the workout but later when my blood pressure is taken or I run for a bus or have to hoist a heavy sack of groceries. I'm trying to take the same approach to meditation -- the point is to just do it and not worry whether I'm doing it right or whether anything is happening during my meditation sessions. I'm trusting that I'll notice the results some day when I don't procrastinate, or I choose nutritious food over junk food, etc.
     
  3. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi there anubic and welcome to the community. MDR gave some great advice here - don't try, simply accept that thoughts come up randomly.

    Your mantra or your breath is simply an anchor for you to focus on and will help you from getting unconsciously involved and carried away in your thoughts.

    Have you downloaded the free Discover Meditation?? Michael talks you all the way through and many people find this really helpful.

    Let us know how you go on and I wish you much peace and joy :) :) :)
     
  4. Itlandm

    Itlandm Member

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    Not all people think in the same way. Most of us think in the form of "internal monologue" - when we try to concentrate on something, we basically talk to ourselves without saying the words out loud. It is possible to measure small movements in the mouth and the throat that are actually the beginning of forming the words we think, but we stop short of saying them.

    But this is not the only form of thinking. You may think in a different way, perhaps in pictures, the way most of us do when we dream. This is a faster way of thinking, but generally gives less control. Again, most people do this when they daydream, but switch to words when they try to concentrate.

    For those who think in words, using a mantra while meditating means that the thoughts cannot form into words, without interfering with the mantra. This way you can easily notice your thoughts, because they will disturb the gentle recall of the mantra. If you are an average person, this is where you become aware of your thoughts, and this is where you simply accept that there were thoughts, and let them sail away while you go back to gently recalling your mantra.

    If you think in some other way, you may want to try other anchors, like a mandala if you think in pictures. But it is really not a big deal. The practice of observing your thoughts is simply a way to detach yourself from them. If they don't bother you, don't go chasing for them. It is not a goal to think as much as possible. As you become ever more quiet inside, it will become easier to notice anything that disturbs this quiet, in whatever form. I am sure you will find out more about your thoughts by then.
     
  5. anubic

    anubic Member

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    Thanks for your opinions, although I still have questions
    You are saying, that your breath / mantra works like an anchor to focus on to help you from getting lost in your thoughts, but will this in any way help me with getting more aware of my own thoughts? If you place your awareness on a mantra / your breath, you wouldn't have it on your thoughts, thus not going to be able to observe them/ be aware of them? This is just me speculating, I would be glad if you or someone could explain it further.
    And about that I should accept that they come up randomly, it's hard for me to do, because I believe that if you do it right you would be able to be aware of your thoughts and stay aware of them, and every time I am not aware of them, I feel like I am doing something wrong and I am therefore trying to be aware of them. I know that when I am not aware of them, I still have thoughts, they are there but I am unaware.>

    And itlandm, thanks for your opinions too, but I still can't figure out how to use the mantra technique you mentioned, you say a word over and over to yourself and focus on it? I've tried it, but all I can be aware of is the mantra, because I focus on it, and I know that I think something at the same time as I am recalling the mantra, but since I am using my attention on recalling the mantra, I can't figure out what it is I am thinking

    I am still open for suggestions, opinions, ideas regarding this, all greatly appreciated.

    Basically same as before, How can I be aware of my thoughts, I seem to fail often, what could I be doing wrong? Also, is it wrong to "look for them"? Wait for them to come up just doesn't seem to work for me as I want to be aware of all of them over a period of time, not only once and then when some of them show up
     
  6. Itlandm

    Itlandm Member

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    As for using the mantra, you should not make an effort to focus on it. The mantra is an anchor or beacon. By comparing your mind with the mantra you will see when something else is taking its place. Just repeat it slowly, leisurely. Any effort in meditation is too much effort. Don't race through the mantra like a machine gun. Space it out. Perhaps starting by repeating it with each breath, and when you feel comfortable with that, slowly introduce more space. The silence between the repetitions of the mantra is where the real meditation takes place. If there is nothing there except the gentle presence of the memory of the mantra, that is fine. Actually, it is awesome. In most people, this is where all kinds of thoughts, feelings, memories, bodily sensations and postponed housework bubble up to the surface. It should be pretty easy to notice that these things are not the mantra. Simply acknowledge this - no analysis needed - and recall the mantra once again. You don't need to say it out loud, except the very first times you ever use it. Just say it in your mind, that's where the real action is.
     
  7. a1ay

    a1ay Member

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    Hello , did u find any solution anubic? i have the same problem here
     
  8. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi a1ay,

    It's a bit of an old thread and I don't think anubic is around here anymore.
    However, I'd agree with the previous advice given... if you're trying to observe the thoughts... stop trying. The thoughts will be there, and observing them takes no effort and no need to try. The key is, when you recognise the thoughts are in your awareness, to just let them go without becoming attached to them... so if you try and observe them, you are actually placing focus on the thoughts, becoming attached, and then following the thought; causing distraction from the meditation, and hence the sense of frustration.

    It's common for this to happen so recognise that it's not a problem, it's just something that will get better with practice.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  9. thenewmeditator

    thenewmeditator Member

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    I understand you. its like you want to follow a procedure or steps. and saying that "be aware of thoughts" is just to general.
     
  10. a1ay

    a1ay Member

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    when i focous on my breath there´s nothing happening, no thoughts coming up .why is that ? what am i doing wrong ? how do i know what iam thinking right now ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  11. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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  12. a1ay

    a1ay Member

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    Thanks for the answers . I still have a question. I recordnize that my mind always analyses himself. like thoughts on thoughts .my body feels very uncomfortable. how can i stop this ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  13. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi a1ay,

    here's a piece from a recent Good Life issue:-


    “Being in meditation is an individual experience. It won't feel quite the same to you as it will to anyone else. Because it's experiential in nature there aren't any precise words in language to convey the exact experience. There are some general points that might be made.

    Sometimes entering that state of meditation can raise a bit of a feeling of anxiousness because you really are not controlling it. It's more a matter of releasing all attempts at control or manipulation. This is contrary to our usual way of relating to the world. We like to think we are in control of things, or at the very least that we are in control of ourselves. To allow that control to slip away, not knowing exactly what's on the other side can be a little unnerving and sometimes it's uncomfortable enough to keep people struggling against it. But if you let go, things will be alright. The unease will quickly pass.

    Meditation is a state of expanded and heightened awareness and consciousness. You will likely feel more aware and "in touch" with everything. Exactly what that feels like is hard to say, but when you feel it yourself you'll know it.

    There will be a very poignant sense of calm; a feeling that things are alright just as they are, at least in this moment. You might experience a feeling of reluctance to leave this state, or a desire to remain right there because its so restful. As soon as any feeling like that arises it's likely that thoughts will accompany it like, "I wish I could just stay this way forever," which is your hint that you've already begun to slip out of meditation and back into the ordinary world of thought. That's when you pick your mantra back up and start again until you once more reach that peaceful point.

    Some things that might arise that will sidetrack you are various bodily sensations or sensory experiences, often visual in nature. It's not at all uncommon to have someone say, "I see colors or swirls of light," or, "I get a feeling of heat or energy in some part of my body," and so forth. Or maybe they feel like their body is swaying one way or another, or that they're almost floating and weightless. They usually want to know if these are "good signs" as far as meditation goes. Actually, they're neither good nor bad. All sorts of odd, quirkly little feelings or sensory impressions like these can emerge and they really say nothing at all about meditation. When you're relaxed; when you're focused on things inward and disconnecting somewhat from things outward, you notice all kinds of things that have probably been there all along to some degree, but which your ordinary, waking mind just obscures because it's too busy doing the normal things a mind does.

    So if you experience these sorts of things just let them pass. If you get attracted to paying them much attention you will have lost your meditative focus. You'll have time after your practice to go back and think about them and analyze them or speculate about their causes, but your meditation time is not the time for such analysis.”

    To read more of this thread please click on the link below…

    http://www.project-meditation.org/c...ox/1930-cant-meditate-properly.html#post10042

    If this or the other recommended links don't answer your specific questions please ask away

    Wishing you much peace and joy :) :) :)
     
  14. Schism

    Schism Member

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    Hi a1ay,

    if you're still around, I battled with similar expectations when I first began meditation. I fell into the habit of 'critiquing' my meditation practice, picking it apart and analysing why I couldn't let go of my thoughts or, why I kept getting carried away by my thoughts. Or I would compare this practice to previous ones which I thought were much better.

    I was lucky to have a spiritual teacher to guide me and always remind me that as Giles and the other helpful people mentioned, in meditation letting go is "not trying to do anything". Observing is just sitting and and letting come what may. So when a thought enters your mind, you can see it and then calmly let it go. If thoughts aren't coming, it doesn't mean the meditation is not making progress. Thoughts and emotions will arise when things start shifting in your subconscious. This will happen throughout your meditation practice.

    It varies from person to person. Let go of all expectations and comparisons to what others are experiencing. Your experience is your own as you have had all your own unique experiences in life.

    I am by no means an experienced meditator giving advice, I have just been taught a few things along the way and I hope I have helped a little.

    Most importantly like the other helpers have said, "no effort" is the key in meditation.

    By the way, I take my own advice still even after years of meditation and my spiritual teacher who is an enlightened being, still has these experiences. The point being, the benefits of meditating come from "just meditating", not what happens during our meditation.

    good luck

    Schism
     

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