on meditation: label your thoughts

Posted by on Jan 22, 2013 in Breath and Body | Comments Off on on meditation: label your thoughts

on meditation: label your thoughts

Meditation can be a daunting practice for those with busy lives, racing minds.  There are so many different methods, it can be hard to know how to get started.  I’ve recently come across a method that is simple enough, focussed enough, and gentle enough (on the self-judgment front!), and wanted to share it with readers who may be looking to start a meditation practice.  Let’s call it “label your thoughts”.  The following is an excerpt from the book Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron:

“Meditation practice is a formal way in which you can get used to lightening up.  Sense the breath going out into big space and dissolving.  You’re not trying to clutch or catch that breath, you’re simply relaxing outward with it.  There’s no particular instruction about what to do during the in-breath- there’s nothing to hold on to until the next out-breath.

Labeling our thoughts during meditation practice is a powerful support that reconnects us with the fresh, open, unbiased dimension of our mind.  When we become aware that we are thinking, we say to ourselves, “thinking”, with an unbiased attitude and with tremendous gentleness.  Then we return our focus to the breath.  We regard the thoughts as bubbles and the labeling like touching them with a feather.  There’s just this light touch- “thinking”- and they dissolve back into the space.  Even if you still feel anxious and tense when the thoughts go, simply allow that feeling to be there, with space around it.  Just let it be.  When thoughts come up again, see them for what they are.  It’s no big deal.  You can loosen up and lighten up.

Saying “thinking” is an interesting point in the meditation practice.  It’s the point at which we can consciously train in gentleness and in developing a nonjudgmental attitude.  Loving-kindness is unconditional friendliness.  So each time you say to yourself “thinking”, you are cultivating unconditional friendliness toward whatever arises in your mind.  Since this kind of unconditional compassion is difficult to come by, such a simple and direct method for awakening it is exceedingly precious.”

Chodron, Pema.  (2003)  Comfortable with Uncertainty.  Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc.

All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.