Don’t let thoughts make you their bitch.

Just because thoughts appear in our awareness, it doesn’t mean we have to do what they say.

We don’t have to listen to thoughts, or engage with them or believe them.

We can instead just see them happen, not judge them, not try to get away from them, or fight them, and not follow them down the rabbit hole.

Sometimes, it can feel like thoughts are our friend or that they’re in fact ‘us.’ But in my view, thoughts are impartial tools to be used how we like.

To see that thoughts aren’t you, notice how when a thought appears and disappears, you were aware of that happening. You stay, while thoughts come and go.

Maybe you think you are the thinker of the thoughts?

This is how it intuitively feels and it evolved this way for good reason. However, take a moment to notice right now that you have no idea what thought will appear next. Also notice that you have no idea where that thought came from, where it got made, who ‘wrote’ it before you ‘heard’ it.

Maybe you think you can control thoughts?

To see how we can’t control thoughts; stop thinking, (like you would stop running when you didn’t want to run anymore).

We can seem to fight with thoughts, reject them, deny them, judge them, believe them, listen to them, engage with them, or we can not do any of that and allow and accept them instead.

I find it much more helpful to allow thoughts to appear, see them and not engage with them if I don’t want to or if they’re hurting me.

Be the master of the thoughts, not a slave to them. (Easier said than done, eh?)

By Annie Charnley.

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Meditation and ‘enlightenment’ are not special.

There is this picture of what meditation looks like and what ‘enlightenment’ looks like.

And there’s a tendency for many of us to believe that that is it, and anything else isn’t it.

It can make me feel like it’s not for us, and that only certain people get it, or see it, who are special. But I don’t think that’s true at all.

MEDITATION

To me, meditation looks like someone sitting crossed legged with eyes closed, hands with palms resting on legs, sitting on top a mountain or temple, with Eastern traditional clothes on. This image is understandable because meditation came from Eastern cultures, but all that is, it’s tradition. It’s made up by humans and I think we can be mislead by it, (because of our minds interpretations).

That image isn’t all meditation is.

You can meditate while you’re doing absolutely anything, while you’re washing up, taking out the bins, wiping your baby’s arse.

What you are doing has no bearing on whether you can meditate or not. You don’t need anything to meditate except a mind. You don’t need the ‘right’ place, the ‘right’ cushion, the ‘right’ clothes.

But at the same time, of course sitting in a quiet place to meditate, can be helpful.

I just don’t want that image described above to put anyone off meditating, it’s not that image, the image isn’t it. What’s going on inside is where it is.

ENLIGHTENMENT

The image of ‘enlightenment’ can also be very misleading.

To me, the image of ‘enlightenment’ is an old guy with a long grey beard, who wears beads and Eastern loose robe like clothing.

And then the mind can seem to assume that if you don’t look like that, then you’re not as enlightened or wise as the people that do look like that.

Again, in a way, this is bollocks, it’s just tradition, it has absolutely nothing to do with actual ‘enlightenment’.

Any one could be ‘enlightened’, and no one else could tell they were, because it’s an internal thing.

This is where fake guru’s come into it. If they look the part, people can often assume they are the real deal, and that they have something special that you don’t. And follow them and hang onto their every word. This situation can get abusive. Many cults do the same thing. There’s a great documentary about fake gurus called Kumare.

You could be a welder who has tattoos and swears a lot and see the truth of who you are.

In reality the way you look externally to other people, has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on inside you. (As we know with people who are depressed and suicidal). There could be millions of people who see the truth of who they are, but you wouldn’t know to look at them. It’s an internal shift in the way you view everything.

Tradition is fine, but it’s not in the tradition. It’s in us, all the time, always has been, always will be.

You don’t need to do anything to see what you really are.The thing that is there before, during and after all thoughts, feelings and sensations. The thing that is aware of whatever is happening. You don’t need the ‘right’ clothes, the ‘right’ lifestyle, the ‘right’ hair style etc.

How I understand it, you just need a mind, and to drop your attachment to all conceptual thought. To drop the striving, searching and control you have and take a step out of your own way.

I don’t want anyone to be put off or mislead by these images, or by the word ‘enlightenment’.

The word makes it sound so special too. And in a way it is, but in a way it’s the most simple, immediate, ordinary thing there is, so ordinary, we miss it. The word ‘enlightenment’, also makes it sound like a thing to get that we don’t have already.

I think this is just what happens when the mind tries to interpret and grasp this pointing using words to something real in our direct experience. It’s quite innocent and understandable. But it is getting in our own way of seeing the reality of what’s happening.

In my humble opinion, this is the way we evolved, to think of ourselves as a self. It’s very beneficial to survival. But it’s not the reality of who we are and it causes a lot of suffering psychologically and emotionally.

The way I see it, we are all already born ‘enlightened’, it is what being is, what awareness is.

I believe we grow up forgetting who we really are, once the mind/self system kicks online, and we can start to take ourselves to be our thought systems, our bodies, our feelings, etc.

It’s not special; it’s completely ordinary.

“My brain is a computer, it will always run, because that’s what it’s designed to do.” – Giancarlo Esposito

It’s taken me a couple of years to come round to the idea of meditation and to see the benefits it will bring my life. I first had to experience a positive reaction and once I had that, there was no going back.

Apparently meditating 30 minutes everyday over a long period of time has been shown to lower stress, anxiety, depression, improved compassion and immune system and helps you sleep and even age better.

It is the act of quieting your mind chatter and just existing and being for a while, there’s no break truer than this. For me personally I’ve felt benefit in getting to sleep easier because of disconnecting with hundreds of thoughts, work better with lowered stress levels, and even to notice things in the moment more.

Buddha was asked: “What have you gained from Meditation?” He replied: “Nothing.” “However, let me tell you what I lost : Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Insecurity, Fear of Old Age and Death.”

So if you get really into it, you can really take a look deep inside yourself and look at your problems in a new light.

For anyone interested in what it is and how to do it, here’s a quick 5 minute demo session:  http://presidemeditation.com/preside-meditation-introduction-onroll/

And if you want some more, I’ve found this to be an excellent app: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/buddhify-2/id687421118?mt=8 and this website too: https://www.headspace.com/