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.
In an earlier blog post, I described the technique of “mental noting”. It is a simple method in which we use thinking to stay in the present rather than get carried away by it into the past or future. This is the practice of using a simple note to calmly name what we are experiencing. In this post, I am going to introduce an even easier technique to practice.
The title of this blog post comes from a quote of Plato. He said that thinking was the talking of the soul with itself. According to him, thoughts were dynamic. Thoughts were power, force and cause of all things. You can see for yourself the nature of thoughts with this simple mindfulness technique.
Take a few minutes to just sit comfortably and not do anything while keeping your eyes gently closed or gently opened. Focus on your breath as it comes in and goes out for a few minutes. Then, gently turn your attention to the flow of thoughts inside your mind. Whenever you notice a thought or a swarm of thoughts, gently label them as “thinking”. In other words, you are not noting and labeling the thoughts as falling into the categories of remembering, judging, planning, believing, worrying, fantasizing, etc. You are simply noting the fact that thoughts have arisen. As soon as you note “thinking”, chances are that the thoughts will pass away only to be replaced by the arising of other thoughts. Whenever you notice a movement in your mind, you are labeling it as “thinking”.
You will soon realize that there are very few moments when there are no thoughts arising. You will also notice the “not self” nature of the thoughts. In other words, there is nobody behind the curtain of your mind that is generating them. They seem to arise on their own accord and seem to be very conditioned on your past memories and future aspirations. You will also notice that they are impermanent and do not last very long. As soon as you label them, they seem to vanish only to be replaced by other thoughts.
Coming back to Plato, it will become clear that if thinking is indeed the talking of soul with itself, then such talk is obscured by the swarm of thoughts that either rehash the past or are preoccupied by the future. The problem is compounded when we consider these thoughts to be real. This mindfulness meditation technique allows us to stay present by observing the flow of these thoughts and not getting carried away by them. Perhaps in this way, we will remain open and receptive to hearing the soul talking with itself.
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