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You Are Not Your Thoughts

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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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.

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