You are not your thoughts.
This is something I’ve been telling myself for a while and only recently actually felt in my being. Getting this concept, at a bodily level, will change the way you look at everything. And it will allow you to create a profound level of groundedness and relaxation you might not believe is possible.
You are not your thoughts. You are not the feelings generated from your thoughts. You are not your beliefs. You are not your habits. And just because you think something does not mean it’s true for you. Just because you think something does not mean you have to give it any attention.
You generate all kinds of thoughts, most of which go unnoticed. There is a part of you which is filtering your thoughts and deciding which ones to pay attention to. And when it decides something might be important, it lets you know, usually through some sort of emotional charge. But that doesn’t make the thought you, and it doesn’t make it true for you.
Until we bring attention to it, most of us allow our thought-filtering to work on auto-pilot to the point where we allow our thoughts to actually control us. We get so used to not consciously observing out thoughts that we assume the thoughts we’re paying attention to are us – they’re who we are.
But they’re not. By bringing conscious awareness to the fact that we are observers of our thoughts, and that we can consciously choose to turn off the “auto-pilot” filter and consciously observe our thoughts, and that we can even observe the emotional charge of some of our thoughts, we can take back that power. By consciously observing out thoughts, we are no longer at the mercy of our thoughts, and we don’t have to let thoughts that have an emotional charge run our lives.
You can get a sense of this by grounding, feeling your feet firmly on the ground, allowing your breath to get slower, deeper and more into your belly with each successive breath. Then bring attention to your thoughts, without paying them any particular mind. Notice there are spaces between your thoughts. Bring awareness to those spaces. Those spaces will become a little longer until you get to that point where you realize you are separate from your thoughts, that you are the space your thoughts flow through. Over time, you will find that space more and more easily, until you can find that place with a single breath.
And you can remind yourself throughout the day that you are not your thoughts, take a moment to reconnect with that space between thoughts, remind yourself that you can choose which thoughts to keep and which to let go, no matter how much emotional charge they carry. When you notice a negative thought, remind yourself “oh, there’s that thought again,” without giving it importance, because it’s just a thought, and nothing more. You choose what to do with it.
And when you feel yourself getting pulled into a thought, pulled into the emotional charge, you can pause, breathe, and refocus on that space between thoughts. And the next time you fall into the old pattern, remind yourself again. And again.
And keep finding that space between thoughts as often as you can remember – you can close your eyes and find that spot for a few seconds at your desk, or at a red light in your car, or in the restroom, or anywhere. You don’t need to go into some elaborate meditation ritual, just stop, breathe, connect, and go back to your life. And remind yourself you are not your thoughts, that when you have a thought you can just notice “oh, that’s a thought,” without taking it on for yourself. Feel the sense of freedom that comes with that.
With just a little practice, it would feel like this:
Stop, deep breath.
Close your eyes, focus, feel that connection to the space between thoughts.
Make a gentle reminder that you are not your thoughts, that when you feel a thought you don’t like, you can simply observe and note “there’s that thought again,” without taking it on for yourself.
Feel that freedom.
Reconnect again with the space between thoughts.
Go on with your day.
This can take as little as ten seconds, total. I’ve done this everywhere. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the more you just find yourself being in that state, until that’s your normal state of being. And if you get thrown off during a period of stress, just make this a conscious practice again. In time, you’ll find a deeper level of peace, freedom, creativity and relaxation than you’ve ever known.