Watching the mind: A method to break free of excess thinking.

Mar 28, 2020 | Awareness | 0 comments

 

This post teaches you how to break free from the web of thinking by watching your mind. Once you understand what this technique means, it becomes easy to apply. As a result, you rise above the mind’s influence and its content no longer troubles you.

The mind can be like a web of thoughts. Learning to watch it helps you break free.

The mind is a web of thoughts. Learning to watch it helps you break free.

 

What does it mean to watch the mind?

 

To watch the mind means being aware of its contents without them taking over your inner space. This practice prevents you from losing attention in a web of thoughts. In time, you learn to step back from the mind, note its excess momentum, and allow this surplus to dissolve.

You experience the mind’s contents as thoughts, images, speech, and emotion. Together they rise and fall in your space – often without you realising. If you’re not aware of these contents, their pace builds until they engulf your inner field. It’s then easy to assume that thoughts and feelings are “you”. When this occurs, you cannot sense any space inside and become lost in the realm of thinking. Now, you’re identifying with the mind and believe it’s who you are. Here, thoughts, images, speech and emotion govern your actions and their results. Break free of this spell by growing aware of the mind.

The most common misconception is that you are your mind and thoughts. Explore this statement. Ask yourself: Who am I? Be alert and open to what answers come forth. Are you just a bundle of thoughts? Who is aware of these movements? When you meditate over the mind in such fashion, realise “there” are its thoughts. “Here” you are as the presence that watches and listens to them. This realisation comes from a wisdom that rests beyond the mind and thoughts.

Once you witness the mind, it’s becomes open and aware. Attune to this and the brain’s momentum diffuses. In this situation, you begin to “dis-identify” with its contents, as they no longer take up your space. This movement undoes the effects of the brain’s past conditioning and connects it with life’s wholeness. On balance, as you rest in this space, the mind’s excess energy dissolves.

 

Watching your mind is the biggest step you can make toward becoming free from all mental suffering.

Watching your mind is the largest step to becoming free from all mental suffering.

 

How do you watch the mind?

 

 

You watch the mind by noticing when thoughts arise and feeling their energy. Here, it’s possible to realise that the brain and its images are minor aspects of your being.

The act of watching the mind is a confusing exercise in its early stages. Most confusion arises from the mistaken idea that this method involves more thinkingIn contrast, the correct understanding is to witness the mind from a silent space. The brain’s thoughts live in this expanse and you don’t need to force yourself to reach it. You cannot solve the problem of excess thinking – with more thinking. Instead, learn to watch the mind and its contents. Here are some pointers to consider when starting this course.

Sit still and close your eyes.

The act of sitting still with closed eyes allows you to focus inward. This step helps tune out any distractions.

Be alert to the mind’s contents.

Be alert to the mind’s thoughts, concerns, feelings, and how they emerge. Ask yourself, ‘what will my next thought be’? Or ‘who is the one watching my inner voices’? These questions help you remain alert to the mind. Imagine a hungry cat sitting outside a mouse-hole – waiting for the mouse to emerge. In this image, the cat symbolises you and the mouse represents your thoughts. Don’t let one thought cross your attention without being aware of it.

Notice the urge to turn away from your mind. 

Notice a great volume of energy in your head and an urge to avoid specific thoughts. You will see mental pictures and projections while turning your gaze inward. When this happens, don’t argue with the mind or try repressing its contents. Instead, be alert to this movement and the motive to involve yourself in thoughts. Realise that you cannot solve the mind by thinking about it. Don’t worry if you catch yourself arguing with, or getting involved in thoughts. As you become more alert, these habits lose their power.

Sense any heaviness and tension in the body.

Thoughts and emotions are nothing more than mounds of mental energy moving through your space. You will often sense them as heaviness and tension in the body. In particular, your head, throat, midsection, chest and back. Explore these feelings as they arise and pay attention to what thoughts take place. This act of being privy to your inner space starts an awakening process that soon dissolves the body’s tension.

Practice for 5-15 minutes a day.

Any awareness exercise is tiring on the brain. The method of watching your mind is more challenging than breath or body awareness because it requires more energy. For this reason, don’t practice for long periods. In any case, five to fifteen minutes is enough.

Don’t feel discouraged if you find it hard to watch the mind.

If you find this exercise hard at first, don’t feel discouraged. It can take one or two months to develop a stable presence to become watchful. Once you’re alert to thoughts and the space where they occur, it’s time to stop watching the mind as a practice. From here, awareness becomes a natural part of your life.

 

Be fully attentive to your thoughts, emotions and feelings. In similar fashion to a lion watching and being aware of its prey.

Watch a lion hunting. Its aware of its prey and surroundings. Be attentive to your thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the same way.

 

What are the benefits of watching thoughts?

 

The benefits of watching thoughts are greater awareness, more wisdom, and less wasteful thinking. This approach also allows you to see the mind’s limits. While listening to the voices in your head, note the distance from them. To illustrate this method, imagine watching a movie in a cinema or at home. The screen or TV represents thoughts, and you’re viewing them in your seat. Note the space between the screen and your chair. This region is your space of being.

Conscious awareness is when you sense a distance to watch the mind – without engaging with its contents. Witness how the brain often produces images as mental movies. This content can include heavy material that holds your attention. When such details cross your mind, it’s easy to avoid, resist, or dwell in their energy. Here, you’re engaging with thoughts and emotions. It’s common to mistake this state for being aware, but in reality, the brain’s momentum is drowning the space within you. Sense how this happens. By doing this, you watch the mind without engaging with it.

Thoughts become less noisy and lighten once you’re aware of them in a mindful manner. In doing so, this creates a small open place within you. As this room increases, you access your natural, quiet self. It was always present beneath the mind’s noise.

In a conscious state of mind, thoughts are sharp, wise, and relevant. Here, you choose what to follow or discard. Such a mindset helps you realise how excess thinking is a habit. You then note the mental origins of thoughts – without them pulling you into their momentum. From here, they cannot force you into unwise actions. On account of this, imbalanced emotions and mental pain fade. These are the benefits of watching thoughts and connecting with your space of being.

 

Your mind often shows images in the form of mental movies. Can you watch these images in the same way as watching a movie at the cinema?

Your mind often shows images as mental movies.

 

Do you need to try hard to be more aware?

 

You don’t need to exert excessive force to grow more aware of your mind. By accepting this, you can allow awareness and growth to happen without stress.

The first stages of awakening from the mind need your active effort. This means using a method where you learn to become more aware. It’s important to note that these techniques still involve the brain because they require you to pay attention. Despite this, you only need to apply such active effort for ten to fifteen minutes daily over one month. After this period, you’re aware of both the mind and its emotions. An active effort is then no longer necessary.

The space of consciousness rests in the background, even if you’re not privy to it. For this reason, you don’t have to force awareness as a routine for lengthy periods. Excess use of any practice can become a mode of suppression. Be wise to this, as prolonged attempts to escape thoughts tangle you further in them. Take the case of a fly trapped in a spider’s web. In this position, the more the fly struggles – the further it gets tangled. The fly can’t escape such a trap until it stops struggling. Release mental conflicts in the same manner, break free from your mind, and rest in conscious space.

A slight level of awareness is enough to start personal growth. Soon, this movement builds up and gains energy. After that, it keeps going until your imbalances resolve. From here, you no longer need to distance yourself from inner turmoil or confusion. With this stable base, the mind can’t capture your full attention. The life flowing through you knows how to restore harmony. This momentum and wisdom bring forth a balance. First, gain a slight level of awareness, then allow this growth to happen.

 

A fly caught in a spiders web is similar to how you lose yourself in your mind.  The more you struggle, the more you become entangled. Once you let go of effort, you can free yourself and find balance.

Look at a fly caught in a spider’s web. The harder it tries to escape, the more trapped it becomes. Your mind’s web catches you in the same way.

 

How do you use a watchful mind in daily life?

 

Use a watchful mind as you wish throughout the day without pushing it toward silence. In doing this, you save time, focus, and energy to channel into your daily routine. You don’t have to force efforts to stay alert once the mind is free of excess thinking.

The mind has an active nature where it is always raising thoughts and thinking. When you practice watching these actions in an alert manner, they become quiet. Don’t aim to hold on to this effect by using force and effort. Instead, witness the active part of your mind without trying to silence it. 

Don’t try silencing the brain for long because it needs to think. Such action allows it to perform its everyday duties. These include planning work and completing tasks. How are these actions affected if you keep imposing silence on the mind? What happens when you try to witness thoughts for long periods? You find that fatigue soon results and affects your decisions. Once you activate awareness from several short practices, continue with the day as usual. From here, the mind becomes steady, aware, and mature by itself. This action is gradual, and it takes time to flow into your life.

When the mind balances and empties its excess contents, you have room to re-engage with it. This time, the wisdom of awareness forms a part of your daily life. In response, the mind grows into a practical device instead of a hindrance. You can then use and explore thoughts in an aware manner – without them harming your wellbeing. Each day, you’re clear on what tasks you need to do. This clarity allows you to complete your day’s work with ease. Such an outcome is the purpose of every awareness exercise. Here, the mind is awake and free of excess thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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