6 Aug
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Thinking About Not Thinking

I think I’m going to use a reading from Gil Fronsdal for the Sunday Sangha discussion I’ll be leading this coming weekend. It’s from the section on “Mindfulness of Thoughts,” in his excellent little book, The Issue at Hand: Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness Practice, which is available as a free pdf here.

Sometimes people think the point of mediation is to stop thinking–to have a silent mind. This does happen occasionally, but it is not necessarily the point of meditation. Thoughts are an important part of life, and mindfulness practice is not supposed to be a struggle against them. 

“We can benefit more by being friends with our thoughts than by regarding them as unfortunate distractions. In mindfulness, we are not stopping thoughts as much as overcoming any preoccupation we have with them.

“However, mindfulness is not thinking about things, either. It is a non-discursive observation of our life in all its aspects. In those moments when thinking predominated, mindfulness is the clear and silent awareness that we are thinking.

“A piece of advice I found helpful and relaxing was when someone said, ‘For the purpose of meditation, nothing is particularly worth thinking about.’

“Thoughts can come and go as they wish, and the meditator does not need to become involved with them. We are not interested in engaging in the content of our thoughts. Mindfulness of thinking is simply recognizing that we are thinking.” 

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