Observe the Turning of Hands of Time
In the blog category “Mindfulness Meditation techniques”, I will list various techniques that will help practitioners of this form of meditation. Over a period of years, I have compiled a variety of such techniques and formed a virtual toolkit from which I draw upon on a regular basis.
Cogito ergo sum is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”. Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.
However; as J. Krishnamurti, Eckhart Tolle, and others have observed within themselves and have pointed out; “thinking” is not what it is cut out to be. The thinking entity or “self” is not a monolithic entity, rather the “self” seems to be a mass of loose conditioning comprised of memories, fantasies, emotions, etc. that is wrapped into a convenient narrative. Left to itself, “thinking” serves to perpetuate the sense of “self”. It can therefore be a powerful force of distraction, preventing us from being mindfully present in a useful way.
Within the broad domain of mindfulness, “mental noting” is a simple method in which we use thinking to stay present rather than carrying us away. This is the practice of using a simple “note” to calmly name what we are experiencing. It can take a while to learn, and can be awkward at first but one can immediately get a sense of the practice.
Try this meditation technique. If you can get a hold of an old fashioned analog watch or clock, take a look at its second hand as it moves smoothly and slowly around and around. Fix your sight in a relaxed but attentive way on the tip of the moving second hand line that moves around the dial. This is a neutral seeing object and also rather boring. What will happen is that very soon you will be bombarded by all kinds of thoughts arising within yourself. In a kind and gentle manner, even as your gaze is on the moving second hand of the clock, turn your attention to the flow of thoughts inside your mind. Mentally note the thoughts as falling into the categories of remembering, judging, planning, believing, worrying, fantasizing, etc. You will also see a combination of these categories. For example, a thought of an incident that may have occurred in the past will show up as having a totally different outcome. You will find that as soon as you label your thoughts this way, they cease to be and are replaced by other thoughts.
At this point, after you have done this exercise multiple times for about 10-15 minutes, you may want to ask yourself these questions: Where are these thoughts coming from? Are you causing them to arise in a neat sequence? Returning to René Descartes philosophical proposition; ask yourself who is the thinking entity or the self? If the thinking entity is the self, then who is the observer that is observing the flow of thoughts? Well, these are interesting questions and they demand interesting answers. Within the domain of mindfulness, however, we are not concerned about answering these questions. We only need to realize that our thoughts are not real. They are the byproduct of our past conditioning and they are neither permanent nor do they provide any satisfaction. They take us either into the past or the future but they never enable us to stay in the present. Mental noting is a meditation technique that allows us to stay present by just observing the flow of these thoughts and by not getting carried away by them.
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