In Week 4 we examine our thoughts, using the support technique of mental noting, or labelling thoughts.
It can be so interesting, when we shine a spotlight on what goes on in our mind, to see what we find!
Usually the monkey mind flits from one thought to another; goes down one rabbit hole, then another, barely coming up for air. But when we are in observation mode, we can start to sift through all the types of thoughts to see where we spend most of our time – whether any patterns arise.
Are we spending most of our time in the past – going over and over something that happened or something someone said? Or are we spending most of our time in the future? Obsessing over every permutation and combination of things that may or may not happen?
When we can look at our thoughts and put a label on them we may find that they lose their power. And then we can start to realise that we are not our thoughts. Just like the sky is not the weather. It’s not the storm clouds. Or the hot blazing sun. Or the rain, wind or lightening. It is just the sky. And these weather conditions pass on through day in, day out. But the sky remains the sky.
So here’s a meditation on examining your thoughts – welcoming them and naming them and seeing what that experience is like.
Welcome to Week 4 of Introduction to Mindfulness: Labelling Thoughts.
First getting into your meditation position. Hands resting in your lap or however you find comfortable. Loosening up the arms. Feet grounded to the floor if you’re sitting in a chair. A free and straight back. And relaxed abdomen.
And starting to become aware of your surroundings.
Aware of what’s around you and where you’re currently sitting. Or standing. Or laying down.
BODY, SOUND AND BREATH AWARENESS
And that you have a body. A body that’s taking up space, experiencing things like heat and coolness. Or aches and pains. And maybe some pleasant sensations.
Also aware of sound. Of what you can hear. Within yourself. In the immediate vicinity. And off in the distance.
And becoming aware now of your breathing. Whether it’s shallow or deep. Laboured or relaxed. Fast or slow.
Just getting in touch with how all these things are right now, perhaps the first time today or this week that you’ve really noticed any of them.
Taking a couple of full breaths in and out before we get going and then letting your breathing settle down into its natural rhythm.
For our meditation, we’re going to see what it’s like to observe our thoughts. And we can do this with a technique known as mental noting, or labelling thoughts. Giving them a name.
It’s a method that provides support to our thinking brain to stay in the moment, as well as uncovering any patterns in the types of thoughts we’re having.
To begin with, decide what you’d like to stay focused on throughout the meditation. The breath is a good place to stay anchored, however if you’d prefer to focus on sound, or sensations in the body then that’s OK too.
Just sitting here quietly with the intention of being with this one aspect of your experience.
But of course, as is the nature of the mind, thoughts will come and go. And so while you are experiencing your breath, or your body, or sound – or some other object of meditation – try to also wait and see what thoughts come knocking.
And when they do, recognise them simply as thought and greet them by name. Say hello.
Greeting your thoughts with a name, acknowledging them and saying hello but not getting caught up in a full-on conversation. There’ll be other thoughts to welcome.
Like categorising books in a library. Fiction. Non-fiction. Adult. Children’s.
Sorting your thoughts at this high level but not opening any covers to get involved in the stories.
Just giving each thought the first name that pops into your head and letting it go so that you can return to your breath or the object of your meditation.
Hello problem solving.
We’ll now head into the silent part of the meditation. Continue resting with your experience and noting thoughts as they arise until you hear the gong.