Thoughts. They come and go. But they are always there. Sometimes they provide pure happiness, sometimes they trigger discomfort in us. Thoughts dominate our actions, our everyday life, how we encounter ourselves and others. Are we even aware of their power? What would happen if we simply titled our thoughts as thoughts, identified less with them?
Have you ever had a situation where you were talking to a close friend and told him/her about your fears and that friend asked you the counter question, "But why do you think that?" Once we are confronted with the question, we quickly run out of answers. Where do these fears, worries, blocks, emotions come from? They arise on the basis of experiences that we have had as well as those that have been brought to us. These experiences are the ideal breeding ground for thoughts - positive and negative.
A conscious encounter with our own thoughts is therefore essential for our mental and physical well-being. Daily mindfulness helps us to unmask deeply anchored beliefs and thus practice more self-love.
My way to organize my thoughts are meditation on the one hand and writing on the other hand - often the combination of both. In meditation I give myself the space to observe. I observe what thoughts arise, how those thoughts make me feel, and how much I identify with them. I try to put myself in the position of an investigator who observes his subjects behind a mirrored windowpane. It took quite a while until my first reaction was no longer to open my eyes and banish my feelings, but to endure it. I think that's the hardest thing in a noisy world like ours. We are used to finding an instant distraction just when we need it.
One exercise that has helped me along the way is distancing myself from my thoughts. By now I am aware that I am not my thoughts, but the implementation is lacking from time to time.
Pema Chödron, a Buddhist nun, talked in her book When things fall apart about teaching a trick for dealing with one's thoughts. Namely, she recommends keeping the monkey-mind in check by saying "thinking" in your head whenever a thought comes up. Meekly and compassionately, we can use this to push our thoughts aside and can remain in a calm and relaxed state, because often they are just thoughts that merely want to keep us busy and are less in need of our deep devotion.
If thoughts arise that are not just about trivialities, but reveal deep beliefs, then it helps to discover these in meditation and then to deal with them. In my case, this is my journal. I take it in my hand and just start writing. Now all thoughts get their space and are written down. In the course of the writing process a solution for the problem is found as if by itself or if this is not the case, it is now a more present topic for me, which I want to pay more attention to from now on in order to be able to find a solution.
In this way I filter my thoughts and break it down to the most necessary. Because not all thoughts are equal and need your attention. There are rather a few thoughts where it is worth listening to. These will open your eyes.