Mindfulness of Thoughts

"Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life."

-Tony Robbins

Our minds are never quiet. Dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future, pulls us out of the moment and places an unwelcome burden on our lives. However, reminiscing about a happy time may bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. If we are anticipating a joyous event, we may experience excitement and hope. The same mind that we count on for problem solving and planning can bring us times of stress, anxiety, and sadness.

We are wired to seek out solutions to life’s challenges. However, there are times when our mind will fail us as there is no solution to be had. Ruminating about an upsetting event when there is nothing to be done about it perpetuates the difficult emotion. Worrying about things that may or may not occur in the future leads to an increase in anxiety. Suppression of thoughts does not work. Most of us have had the well-meaning but unhelpful advice of, “just stop worrying about it.” Unfortunately, most of us are quite practiced in worry. Like everything in life, we get better at what we practice.

Our thoughts have a significant impact on our mood, stress level, confidence, and self-esteem. It is a valuable intention to become more aware of our thoughts, such that we can have more control where our minds take us. This is about practicing mindfulness of our thoughts. A formal way to practice is with meditation. Informally, one can pick a set time such as driving or cooking where the objective is to work at being in the present moment and then watching how the thoughts run about. When you notice that you are not in the moment, you gently redirect yourself back to the present. You may have to do this repeatedly. That is normal, and that is the practice. Observe without judgment. We are not our thoughts, and without awareness, they can cloud the lens through which we view ourselves and those around us. Practicing mindfulness of thoughts helps to clear that lens and see what is actually there. When we come into the present, and get out of our heads, we suffer less.