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Thought Awareness Mindfulness Exercise

More than perhaps any other aspect of mindfulness training, developing an awareness and understanding of our internal thought processes is essential. As we become more aware of the way that we think, and the way that our thinking relates to what we feel, believes, and want. With greater awareness of our thought patterns comes the ability to detach ourselves from our thoughts to some degree. With this mindfulness exercise, you’ll learn that you don’t necessarily need to believe everything that arises in your mind, or internalize your beliefs as deeply as you might normally do.

Mindfulness meditation for awareness of thoughts

As part of this mindfulness exercise, you’ll be asked to settle into your body and examine your thoughts. As your thoughts come and go, your job will be to simply observe them. The term “thoughts” can mean many different things: beliefs about ourselves and others; pictures in our minds; memories of times past; plans that we might have for the future; and so on.

Sometimes, you’ll experience thoughts in a somewhat detached and abstract way. At other times, your thoughts will come into your mind accompanied by specific emotions. Your job isn’t to judge these thoughts, sensations, and feelings as either good or bad. Instead, you’ll simply observe them as passively as you can manage.

Avoiding judgment

We tend to jump straight to judgment when thinking about something. When a thought enters your mind during this exercise, you might be tempted to pass judgment on it. Here, though, your job will be to simply watch and listen to the thought. Rather than judging the way that you feel, or self-identifying with your thoughts and allowing them to dominate you, try to approach your thoughts with a level of curiosity. Where are these thoughts coming from? Are these thoughts really “you?”

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  • […] ‘Mindfulness of thoughts’ is like the 300-pound bench press – you need to work your way up to it. It’s very difficult to concentrate on the nature of ever-changing mental states, so people find it helpful to categorize thoughts into one of three simple categories: “past”, “present” or “future”. Other “categories”, or labels of types of thoughts, can include one of the five senses, the type of associated emotion, or whether the thought it wholesome or unwholesome. […]

  • […] ‘Mindfulness of thoughts’ is like the 300-pound bench press – you need to work your way up to it. It’s very difficult to concentrate on the nature of ever-changing mental states, so people find it helpful to categorize thoughts into one of three simple categories: “past”, “present” or “future”. Other “categories”, or labels of types of thoughts, can include one of the five senses, the type of associated emotion, or whether the thought it wholesome or unwholesome. […]

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