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You Are Not Your Thoughts

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. And today, I'm going to talk about the distinction between thoughts and awareness. So most of us tend to spend a huge amount of our time immersed in thought. We plan. We play back memories.

We figure out problems. Ruminate, fixate, worry, self reflect, compare, contemplate, and daydream. Now, although thinking can often be really useful. The problem is that we can become so lost in our thoughts that we become fused with them. Now that the term for this in psychology is cognitive fusion.

It's where there's really no space between you and your thoughts. So when we're fused with our thoughts, we tend to take them very, very seriously. We start to believe every thought that arises in the mind. We obey our thoughts. We react very emotionally to them.

And we identify with them, meaning that it feels like we are our faults. But when we diffuse from our thoughts, we take a step back from our thoughts and we're able to observe them without being totally wrapped up in them, without allowing them to define us. This is cognitive diffusion. And this is a lot of what mindfulness teaches us to do. So in cognitive diffusion, we untangled from thinking and we discover a deep sense of self.

We discover that we're not our thoughts. We are the still, unshakable awareness that's always there just beneath the thoughts. So many teachers use the metaphor of the sky to illustrate the difference between thoughts and awareness. So the experience of thoughts is a little bit like the experience of clouds passing through the sky. Your awareness is like the sky itself, this still, unchanging, ever present space of consciousness.

And so resting as the sky, you can observe the clouds passing through without being so affected by them. This is mindful awareness. So when we learn to observe our thoughts in this way, our relationship to them completely transforms. So we don't buy into them as much anymore. We don't feel like we have to obey them.

We only follow them if they're useful or helpful. Otherwise we simply see them as mental events moving through the mind, like clouds move through the sky. They're not reality. They're not the truth. They're just thoughts.

So they don't really pull us in any more the way they used to. So instead of being constantly hijacked by our worries or stresses, we can observe calmly, oh wow. There's some thoughts arising about what might happen in the future. And we can make a choice not to buy into that thought pattern if it's not useful, if we think it's just going to cause us to feel anxious. And instead of descending into the tirades of self-criticism that lead to low self esteem or depression, again, we can simply notice, oh okay, there's inner critic thoughts arising today.

We can kind of smile at them. And just get on with our day without believing them. So it's really this realization that you are not your thoughts that gives you a lot of freedom and peace of mind. It's this realization that deepens more and more with every single practice of mindfulness. So with this in mind, let's start to settle in here for today's practice.

And as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

You Are Not Your Thoughts

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. And today, I'm going to talk about the distinction between thoughts and awareness. So most of us tend to spend a huge amount of our time immersed in thought. We plan. We play back memories.

We figure out problems. Ruminate, fixate, worry, self reflect, compare, contemplate, and daydream. Now, although thinking can often be really useful. The problem is that we can become so lost in our thoughts that we become fused with them. Now that the term for this in psychology is cognitive fusion.

It's where there's really no space between you and your thoughts. So when we're fused with our thoughts, we tend to take them very, very seriously. We start to believe every thought that arises in the mind. We obey our thoughts. We react very emotionally to them.

And we identify with them, meaning that it feels like we are our faults. But when we diffuse from our thoughts, we take a step back from our thoughts and we're able to observe them without being totally wrapped up in them, without allowing them to define us. This is cognitive diffusion. And this is a lot of what mindfulness teaches us to do. So in cognitive diffusion, we untangled from thinking and we discover a deep sense of self.

We discover that we're not our thoughts. We are the still, unshakable awareness that's always there just beneath the thoughts. So many teachers use the metaphor of the sky to illustrate the difference between thoughts and awareness. So the experience of thoughts is a little bit like the experience of clouds passing through the sky. Your awareness is like the sky itself, this still, unchanging, ever present space of consciousness.

And so resting as the sky, you can observe the clouds passing through without being so affected by them. This is mindful awareness. So when we learn to observe our thoughts in this way, our relationship to them completely transforms. So we don't buy into them as much anymore. We don't feel like we have to obey them.

We only follow them if they're useful or helpful. Otherwise we simply see them as mental events moving through the mind, like clouds move through the sky. They're not reality. They're not the truth. They're just thoughts.

So they don't really pull us in any more the way they used to. So instead of being constantly hijacked by our worries or stresses, we can observe calmly, oh wow. There's some thoughts arising about what might happen in the future. And we can make a choice not to buy into that thought pattern if it's not useful, if we think it's just going to cause us to feel anxious. And instead of descending into the tirades of self-criticism that lead to low self esteem or depression, again, we can simply notice, oh okay, there's inner critic thoughts arising today.

We can kind of smile at them. And just get on with our day without believing them. So it's really this realization that you are not your thoughts that gives you a lot of freedom and peace of mind. It's this realization that deepens more and more with every single practice of mindfulness. So with this in mind, let's start to settle in here for today's practice.

And as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

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