Sit, and think of nothing. Contain not a single thing within your mind. Can you do it?
If so, I truly applaud you. If you cannot, please don’t worry about the inability to free your mind from thoughts. It is honestly really hard to do! Our minds have evolved to reflect on our actions, experiences, and moments in order to learn and take in as much information as we can about the environment and our place within it. This is actually a really natural process, as we regularly engage in these thought processes. We actively manage the situation we find ourselves a part of by thinking about it. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware of how much we think. If you had to count how many thoughts you might have in an average day, could you do it?
Photo by Yoann Boyer
We are often unaware of how many times we actually think, as it seems like a constant process, but overall, it takes up majority of our waking life. We’re always thinking, planning, rationalizing, reflecting, and even creating. But what if this becomes a problem? What if we find ourselves overthinking every aspect of our lives, making every thought seem highly significant and necessary Some people are more inclined to overthink aspects of their life due to mental health issues, such as obsessive compulsive or anxiety disorders. These incessant thoughts can occupy the mind in ways we feel we have no control over. How do we take back our mental state and explore the control we have over it?
Photo by Darius Bashar
One strategy to regain the control that we may feel we have lost over our minds is the practice of mindfulness. This is a topic that has gained a considerable amount of attention lately. But how does one remain mindful throughout their daily life? How does one pay attention to the moment and not all of these thoughts about the moment, thoughts about the past, or even thoughts about the future?
Photo by Elijah Hiett
Meditation involves quieting the mind to focus attention inwards, towards the awareness that occupies each moment. This awareness is the deepest and most foundational feature of who we are. Our awareness is that inner spotlight we can shine towards our environment or towards ourselves. We have the ability to reflect upon actions we have made or others have made within our world. We can also reflect on our own thought processes. But this awareness does not have to necessarily be directed towards some object. We can just let it be clear and undirected. This means that our awareness just is; it is not focused on anything in particular, although there are meditation practices of focusing attention towards one aspect, such as our breathing or a visual point.
Photo by Joshua Earle
When we learn about what meditation is and why it is important to relax our awareness, we can see that it doesn’t have to be a difficult and dreadful practice. Mediation can be viewed as liberating this awareness and taking control of these mentalistic thoughts we all collectively engage in. Thinking is natural, but overthinking doesn’t have to occupy our minds without our permission. Take a few deep breaths, find this awareness and appreciate the ability we have to direct it throughout our lives. It serves a purpose and we can train it to work for us rather than against us. Meditation isn’t easy, but it is a simple way to experience inner peace by listening to our inner intuitive selves. Simple doesn’t seem so difficult after we have learned how it works.