On Mindfulness

To be mindful is to simply be aware, as thoughts come without getting involved in the thoughts, not going off on a train of thought, not worrying about where a thought came from, but simply being aware that thinking is happening. It helps to make a mental note of ‘thinking’ every time a thought comes. Observe the rising of a thought without judging or reacting to it, without identifying it. Our thoughts are only thinking.

You will see that when we aren’t so attached to our thought process, that thoughts don’t last as long. As soon as we engage a thought with mindfulness, it disappears. Sometimes people find it helpful to label thinking in a more complete way, noting differing kinds of thoughts such as: ‘thinking’, ‘desiring’, ‘remembering’, etc. This can serve to strengthen our focus.

Try to note each thought the moment it arises. When thoughts are noted in this way they don’t have as much power to disturb our minds. Thoughts aren’t obstacles to our meditation, they are just an object of meditation, like the breath or a mantra. Make the effort to clearly note each thought and not get carried away by them.

If something comes into your mind, let it come in and let it go out. It will not stay long. Don’t try to stop thought, just let it come and go. Gradually, our minds will become calmer and calmer. Many thoughts come, but they are just from our own minds, which means they are under our control if we can just learn how to manage them.

This practice will bring about a state of balance and calm. Keep the mind aware, from moment to moment, of the thoughts that are arising.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher living in Kansas City. He gives online teachings through the Open Heart Project, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

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